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A BuzzDock toolbar suddenly appeared in my Chrome browser. I definitely did not install it nor do I remember installing any crapware.

It is not unknown to the internet community (Example 1, Example 2). Though it is considered annoying no one seems to think it is a security threat but I don't know where it come from so I am concerned.

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What software have you installed since the last time you used Chrome without the toolbar? Are you the only user of the computer who has access to install software? Have you tried un-installing BuzzDock? – Iszi May 2 '12 at 14:03
There are a range of applictions which will install things like this, without them being classed as 'malware' - often there is a check box with a tick in it by default that says "add toolbar xxx to my browser" – Rory Alsop May 2 '12 at 14:35
Also, a sidenote: Please do not use URL shorteners when posting links on our site. We tend not to trust those. – Iszi May 2 '12 at 15:09
It might not be 'malware' but it is definitely 'spyware'. – schroeder May 2 '12 at 15:17
Does anyone know how BuzzDock gets installed? It seemed just to appear, I can't remember authorizing it. – user11960 Aug 3 '12 at 14:47
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Strictly speaking, any software that is added to your computer potentially increases its attack surface. So, it is best practice to only install (or leave installed) software that you actually need.

Additionally, if software is installed without your knowledge or consent, this can be an indicator of an underlying security problem. Either:

  1. Somebody else has Administrator-level access (legitimately or not) to your computer, who does not respect your rights to manage your own computer's software and configuration.
  2. You, or someone else allowed on your computer, may have downloaded (intentionally or not) some malware which has installed the toolbar.

A quick perusal of Google seems to generally indicate that BuzzDock is really nothing more than an annoyance to those who don't want to use it. However, as @schroeder outlines in his answer, it does exhibit some behavior generally associated with spyware. If you no longer want it on your computer, I'd suggest trying to uninstall it via appwiz.cpl, also known as "Add/Remove Programs" or "Programs and Features".

Additionally, you should ask yourself and other users of the computer the following questions:

  1. Are you the only person with Administrator-level rights on your computer?

  2. If the answer to #1 is no, do the others really need Administrator-level rights?

    2a. If not, down-grade their accounts to "Limited User".

    2b. If they do, make clear your expectations of what they may and may not use their Administrator-level privileges for on your computer.

  3. Have you or anyone else installed anything on your computer recently?

  4. If the answer to #3 is yes, is the software known to include BuzzDock?

    4a. If yes, un-install BuzzDock and move on. Ensure that all users who have permission to install software are aware of how to prevent installation of crapware in the future.

    4b. If no, or if the answer to #3 is no, run a full scan of your system with your antivirus and antimalware programs of choice.

If any viruses or malware are detected which give you any trouble in removal, or if the software itself is hard to remove, a full system re-build may be your best resolution option.

In any case, there's rarely a time when an antivirus/antimalware scan is a bad idea - just so long as it's not during a period where it will impede the performance of the system under active use.

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It looks like it comes bundled with other software. – schroeder May 2 '12 at 17:01

As requested: Buzzdock as Spyware

Now, I might be expanding the definition of 'spyware' beyond the modern definition, but going with the basic definition:

" ... collects information about users without their knowledge."
" ... software that monitors a user's computing ... "
Source: Wikipedia

Buzzdock is a layer that rewrites webpages with its own content, and tracks the user's search terms, pages, and information supplied to the sites visited. Source: Buzzdock.

They are also open about sharing your personal info with 3rd parties:

"In addition, the Company may share your personal information with our affiliated companies."
Source: Buzzdock

Now, I know Google might have similar terms, but the definition fits. And seeing that Buzzdock is an LLC and not a public company, there is less oversight over how your information is being used.

Yontoo as Malware

Buzzdock is built on top of Yontoo (source), which does have its own history of malware and spyware accusations here.

In addition, there are many complaints of Yontoo installing itself without the user's knowledge:

Spyware or Adware?

This might be the bigger question. How does one define the technical difference between the two given the interdependence of the data collection service to 3rd party advertisers?

Either way, as the OP suggests, and as others have claimed for 2 years, Yontoo installs itself without proper user awareness, rewrites webpages with its own content, and collects and passes on user information to third parties. Illegal? No. Worthy of a withering glare and a smack upside its head. Definitely yes. Security Threat? For the user to decide...

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Good write-up, here. Couple that with the action flow in my question, and I think we've got this case covered. – Iszi May 2 '12 at 17:23

protected by Community Oct 24 '12 at 18:53

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