It seems simple enough, I want to install Adobe Flash Player so I search for “flash player download and click on the first result, right?


Ignoring the second link which doesn’t have a five star rating and 37 reviews, I’m brought to a page called


I click the download button, click through the download dialog box and run dialog box, come to the Optimum Download screen for my Free Flash Player. Click.

optimum downloaderLet’s see what this installs. First up is RealPlayer. Click.

realplayerNext up is some program called Solid Savings. Click.

Solid Savings

Then something called Unit Layers. Click.

Unit Layers

That seems like a lot of software to install in order to get my Adobe Flash Player, but we’re not done yet, here’s something called Optimizer Pro. Click.

Optimizer Pro

Okay, now we’re finally installing…


Now RealPlayer, which was bundled with Flash Player wants to install the Google Toolbar? A bundle within a bundle? Okay… Click.

Google Toolbar

I should have my Flash Player any moment now… Wait a minute. VLC media player? Where’s the Adobe Flash Player I started out downloading?

VLC Player - what

Okay, VLC media player will play flash files, but I really expected to be getting Adobe Flash Player (Seriously, while I was doing this I was hoping this was one of the “download managers” that actually downloads and installs the actual Adobe Flash Player along with all of this other software. I was surprised and disappointed to get VLC media player instead.) The link I had clicked on initially displayed it’s URL as and included the text “Install AdobeFlash Player Now” so you would think that link would get you Adobe Flash Player, but no, it was just a misleading ad that appeared as the top result on the search page that led to a “download manager” which bundled a bunch of additional software along with VLC media player, which can be downloaded for free. The website even had fine print stating that “This software may be available free elsewhere” which was hyperlinked to the download page for VLC media player!

optional software included

So how should you install Adobe Flash Player? Or any other software for that matter? In this case I could have clicked on the second link which would have brought me directly to the download page for Adobe Flash Player (and unchecked the box to opt-out of installing McAfee Security Scan Plus of course.) In general we recommend downloading software directly from the software company’s website whenever possible, otherwise you could end up installing all sorts of additional, potentially unwanted software along with the free software that you wanted to download – or even a completely different program like I just did.

Dan Para

About the Author

Dan Para

Senior Threat Research Analyst

Dan Para is a Senior Threat Research Analyst focused on the detection and prevention of malware and other threats.

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