Beware of Shiny Things

Geeks and Nerds are rather like magpies – they are attracted to shiny new things, so it may not have been accidental that Google named their browser “Chrome”. So it was as a good gerd, that I downloaded and installed Chrome.

The interface is definitely a bit different to most browsers, quite spartan, allowing more space for content. Couldn’t disable advertisements on webpages (Normally I use Adblockplus in Firefox), but since Google’s business model is to deliver advertising to surfers that shouldn’t be a surprise. Did run very quickly, but also seemed to hog a lot of CPU. It opens each tab in a separate memory process, so with several tabs running your system would be operating at quite a high load. There is a nice task manager which shows you what resources are being used, and allows you to kill “rogue” threads. So my verdict was “looks like a beta version, has a few nice features, but nothing to die for”.

When I installed it, I took care to use the Advanced option to see exactly what was being installed and to customise my options. I decided NOT to allow the automatic update feature and NOT to send usage stats to Google. So I was surprised when my firewall, Zonealarm asked me if I would like to allow Googleupdater to access the internet. I said No. A few minutes later the message popped up again, so I refused it permission and went into (windows) task manager and killed the service. So I was irritated when several minutes later the message returned. So I opened Bitdefender, and went to Antispyware/System Info and removed Googleupdater from Run Items/Local Machine Run (you can do similar through MSConfig) and checked that it wasn’t launched via other registry keys. Then I rebooted the computer. Several minutes after I logged back on Zonealarm again informed me that Googleupdater was trying to access the internet, so patience exhausted I uninstalled Chrome and rebooted. Several minutes after I logged back on Zonealarm again informed me that Googleupdater was trying to access the internet. Now I am sorry, but software that still exists after you have (a) told it that you don’t want it to run and (b) have removed it from your computer and rebooted is displaying all the characteristics of Spyware and Malware. Which is ironic given that Google make a feature of the Incognito mode for Chrome, whereby and pages you visit are not cached on the PC, the URL’s are not recorded and the cookies deleted. So at this point I declared Google Chrome malware and set about removing it permanently. In C:\Program Files\Google\Common I found an Update folder, which I removed, in Documents And settings\Username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google I found an Update folder. I tried to delete it and was told that “goopdate.dll” was in use. (To find that folder you will have to “Show Hidden Files and Folder” in Windows Explorer”. So I opened a command prompt and changed to that folder and typed (without the quote marks) “regsvr32 /u goopdate.dll”, received confimation that the service had been uregistered, closed the command prompt and was able to remove the rest of the Update folder. I then rebooted and haven’t been troubled by the problem since. This is very similar to the process to remove other recalcitrant software such as “Phorm”, and the fact that Google hides several copies on the computer and doesn’t remove them, even when you apparently remove the software makes me highly suspicious of (a) the software and (b) the company.

If you use Chrome, be aware that it really exists for google to get paid for directing averts at you, and that those adverts are based on the websites that you visit, which means that they must be storing data about the websites you visit – even when you use “incognito mode” (as they allude to in their T’s and C’s) and even if you have chosen NOT to send usage stats.

Today is the day that what respect I had for Google went out of the window. I won’t trust my web browsing to them, I certainly wouldn’t edit any documents in Google Docs, and I’ll be looking to move my photos off Picasaweb as soon as I find an alternative home for them. So long Google, it was (almost) fun knowing you.

~ by @mmonyte on September 4, 2008.

2 Responses to “Beware of Shiny Things”

  1. Sneaky little app. On a certain (dark) level I have an appreciation for the insidious nature of this beast.

  2. It seems that Google is packaging all its software via GoogleUpdater. If you want to install the software with out this horrid little program go to this location and download the program you want individually. They may change that link so you might need to dig around on their website. Just make sure you do NOT download “googleupdater.exe”. They don’t seem to offer Chrome this way, though.

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