The MetaSieve Blog

January 23, 2009

Google now into spyware

Filed under: Uncategorized — Björn Wilmsmann @ 3:53 pm

Recently, I installed Picasa for Mac OS X. However, I didn’t quite like the application, especially when compared to iPhoto, so I haven’t touched it for a few weeks now.

This morning however, something utterly strange happened: An application called GoogleSoftwareUpdater suddenly started out of nowhere and tried to update Picasa. Fortunately, I use Little Snitch, which informed me about some app trying to connect to the Google servers, so I could block the request immediately.

Nevertheless, my first thought was something like ‘WTF?’ because neither was I asked during Picasa installation if I wanted the software to install a background updating process nor could I disable the updating process afterwards.

It just silently started every few minutes to check for new versions. Even worse, it didn’t show up in the usual place for processes automatically started at login, which would have been the current user’s startup items. It’s hidden in a rather arcane folder for additional startup items that’s usually not supposed to be touched by users themselves.

Given these facts, it appears to me that Google is trying to take control of your Mac and is reluctant to give it back to you. Otherwise, they could simply have done it the usual Mac OS X way: Checking for updates each time the actual application starts.

I mean, what on earth did Google think when implementing an intrusive update feature like this? Did they want to make Mac OS X more like Microsoft Windows with all its intrusive background apps and malware provided by third parties?

Apparently, I’m not the only one who is offended by this behaviour, check out these two articles as well.

Anyway, there is way of completely removing this malware:

  1. Move the file ~/Library/LaunchAgents/com.google.agent.keystone to trash.
  2. Move the folder ~/Library/Google to trash.
  3. Move the folder ~/Library/Application\ Support/Google to trash.
  4. Move /Applications/Picasa to trash.
  5. Finally, restart your computer.

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