Do You Ignore Your Software Security? Yes You Do!


Sure, you, too, are ignoring your software security! That is unless you are one of the 0.1 percent of users who read the End User License Agreement (EULA, also known as software license). Otherwise, you sign contracts blindfolded because that box is full of legal mumbo-jumbo when you install a program… yes, it is a contract!

Do You Ignore Your Software Security? Yes You Do! 1

Software security wouldn’t be an issue if all software licenses were simple agreements setting out reasonable terms of use. Unfortunately, most are lengthy texts with legal slang, leaving those few who read them bedeviled and thwarted. Some enclose words to which the ordinary user would object if he acknowledged what he agreed to. For example, to protect against cracking, many software licenses now give the software company the right to gather information about your computer and have it automatically sent to the software marketer. Some, in particular software licenses for freeware, hold clauses whereby you agree to install added software you do not want, some of which conspicuous spyware or adware are ignored. As a result, one might assume that the freeware is to blame for all the bad things that have happened; however, isn’t it the end-user who doesn’t read the legal material that is to blame?

Either way, people do not read the EULA. We are usually curious about what the new software will bring when downloading and installing software. That EULA is just one more thing to drop time on because it is generally not readable quickly, hence not read at all. But indeed, the next thought that arises is: what have you agreed to when you clicked I agree?

Especially with freeware, there can be an even more significant problem. Freeware is not always accessible. Sure, it is not free to reverse engineer, modify, or redistribute freeware, but there is also the kind of freeware disguised as adware or spyware.

An example.

Remember from about five years ago when Gator created a storm of protest? Its GAIN Publishing End, User License Agreement stated that the user automatically agreed to install the GAIN AdServer software when accepting the EULA. So, the software license allowed the company to install software that collected certain identifiable information about web surfing and computer usage. This software came immediately with the freeware and was established in the same process. In the end, this resulted in a display of all types of ads on the user’s computer.

Next, the EULA mentioned that Gator even authorized popular uninstallers for their tools, which countless people trusted to remove this unwanted stuff from their machines. But also, users were prohibited from using devices like web monitoring programs or similar on the GAIN AdServer and its messages, thus eliminating all possible control. Such clauses no longer relate to software protection against cracking and were more than a bridge too far for many users.

So, if all is specified in the product’s software license, it can also help decide what you want installed or not! Indeed, the software balancing at the edge of legal boundaries will try to straighten out what is incorrect. And you guessed it correctly: that is most frequently revealed in the EULA.


In lawyer terms, an End User License Agreement is a legal contract between a software application author and the user. A license grants the user the right to use computer software in a specific and well-determined way. Usually, an EULA specifies the number of computers a user can use the software on, that reverse engineering, cr, lacking, or any other form of illegal piracy is prohibited, and any legal rights they are forfeiting by agreeing to the EULA. The user is usually asked to check a button to accept the EULA terms or consent to it by opening the shrink-wrap on the application package or simply using it. The user can refuse to agree by returning the software product for a refund or by clicking I do not accept when prompted to accept the EULA during an install, in which case the software installation is usually ended. For websites, the TOS (terms of service) is the legal counterpart of the End User License Agreement for software.

So far, all may seem quite normal. However, the software license is infamous for containing stealthy clauses maintaining incredible restrictions on the behavior of software users while providing the software developer or vendor with highly intruding powers. For example, Microsoft software licenses allow the company to gather information about the user’s system and its use and provide this information to other organizations. They also grant Microsoft the right to change the user’s computer without requesting permission. Don’t be mistaken by thinking this is a Microsoft-only affair; software licenses frequently have a clause allowing vendors to make changes to users’ systems without asking or notifying the user. Remark that adding the wrong things to software has happened chiefly with freeware. However, lately, there seems to be a trend to shift those same bad habits towards shareware and trialware. Yes, the terms of service of some well-known companies have been under fire.