Genieo
Developer(s)Genieo Innovation
Initial releaseMarch 2010 (2010-03)
Operating systemmacOS
PlatformMacintosh
Available inEnglish
TypeAdware, user tracking software
LicenseAdware
Websitegenieo.com[dead link]

Genieo Innovation is an Israeli company, specializing in unwanted software which includes advertising and user tracking software, commonly referred to as a potentially unwanted program, adware,[1] privacy-invasive software, grayware,[2] or malware.[3] They are best known for Genieo, an application of this type. They also own and operate InstallMac[4] which distributes additional 'optional' search modifying software with other applications. In 2014, Genieo Innovation was acquired for $34 million by Somoto,[5] another company which "bundles legitimate applications with offers for additional third party applications that may be unwanted by the user".[6] This sector of the Israeli software industry is frequently referred to as Download Valley.[7]

History

Genieo Innovation was founded in April 2008 by Sol Tzvi and Jacob Tenenboem.

The first version of Genieo was released in September 2009,[8] and the beta version was launched at the Demo2010 conference in March 2010.[9]

Genieo's website has been down and it is suspected that it has changed its name to InKeepr.[10]

Overview

The software installs itself onto computers and makes it almost impossible for users to remove it. It hijacks the user's browser and tracks browser usage with the intention of mining information. Users complain that it acts like a virus and they need to run special programs to remove it.

Malware issues

Genieo is listed as malware in Apple Inc.'s XProtect anti-malware service, which built in to all Macintosh computers running Mac OS X Snow Leopard or later.[1]

In May 2013, a malicious installer, distributed by Genieo partner Softonic,[11] was found by security software company Intego. The installer masquerades as a necessary update to Adobe Flash Player and attempts to install Genieo.app without user interaction. Dynamic libraries are added to the Safari browser, which intercept searches intended for Bing and Google.[12]

Other versions of Genieo for Mac have also been offered as 'codecs' required for video playback.[13] Testing carried out on Genieo for Mac in June 2013 found that it left active software behind even after using the supplied uninstaller, which required detailed manual removal.[13][14][15]

In November 2013, another fake application installer was reported to include Genieo adware. [16]

In January 2014, Sophos added Genieo for Mac to their threat list; in the category Viruses and Spyware : Trojan horse (computing) : Adware .[17]

As of November 2014, Genieo for Mac is flagged by Intego (mentioned above)[12][14] and, according to an analysis at VirusTotal, by 25 (out of 55 surveyed) anti-malware solutions, including Ad-Aware, Avast!, Bitdefender, Comodo, Dr. Web, ESET, Fortinet, F-Secure, Kaspersky, Trend Micro Housecall, Sophos and Symantec[18]

In July 2014, Genieo was acquired for $34 million by Somoto,[5] another company which "bundles legitimate applications with offers for additional third party applications that may be unwanted by the user."[6]

In August 2015, malware researchers discovered a Genieo installer which acquired access to the Mac keychain, by an automated click on "allow", when the permission dialog for the keychain was displayed.[19] The code was in a Safari browser extension added by Genieo, and was also contained, but not immediately used, in earlier versions of the installer.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Apple Cracks Down on Adware".
  2. ^ Symantec (anti-virus software vendor) on Genieo, updated 10 July 2014
  3. ^ "Genieo - Your Personal Homepage". www.genieo.com. Archived from the original on 8 December 2013.
  4. ^ "InstallMac - A market place for Mac OSX applications". www.installmac.com.
  5. ^ a b "Somoto acquires Genieo Innovation for $34m - Globes". en.globes.co.il. 27 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Detailed Analysis - Somoto BetterInstaller - Adware and PUAs - Advanced Network Threat Protection | ATP from Targeted Malware Attacks and Persistent Threats | sophos.com - Threat Center".
  7. ^ Hate Pop-Up Ads? Microsoft tries drawing line in the sand Wall Street Journal, Orr Hirschauge, 4 June 2014
  8. ^ "Create a Personal Homepage Without Lifting a Finger". Archived from the original on 12 January 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  9. ^ Barbierri, Cody (22 March 2010). "DEMO: Genieo takes automatically generated homepages mobile".
  10. ^ "Genieo Changing Its Name?".
  11. ^ "Genieo FAQ - What is Softonic Home?". Archived from the original on 23 May 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  12. ^ a b Lysa Myers (23 May 2013). "Another Problematic Softonic Installer Brings Adware". Intego. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  13. ^ a b "Malicious Genieo installers persist". Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  14. ^ a b Lysa Myers (25 June 2013). "Another Sketchy Genieo Installer Discovered". Intego. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  15. ^ "Adware Removal Guide : Genieo". Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  16. ^ Thomas Reed (26 November 2013), "Malicious download installs Genieo and GoPhoto.it adware", The Safe Mac, retrieved 17 December 2013
  17. ^ "Detailed Analysis - OSX/Geonei-A - Viruses and Spyware - Advanced Network Threat Protection | ATP from Targeted Malware Attacks and Persistent Threats | sophos.com - Threat Center". www.sophos.com.
  18. ^ "VirusTotal". www.virustotal.com.
  19. ^ [1] Genieo installer tricks keychain - Malwarebytes