After our initial response to Hotbar, our spyware research team spent a more time researching Hotbar’s practices. We will be upgrading their threat level and default action in our database.

  • Hotbar will be re-classified from “Low Risk Adware” to “Adware.”
  • Hotbar’s “Threat Level” will be changed from “Low Risk” (5) to “Moderate Risk” (4).
  • The “Default Action” for Hotbar will be changed from “Ignore” to “Quarantine.”

Click here to read our internal research paper. From the report:

Recommendations

Hotbar’s Web Tools software package exhibits a number of troublesome qualities. First, Hotbar’s less-than-fully-transparent installation practices make it likely that the software could be installed without users’ full, meaningful knowledge of and consent to the software’s key terms and functionality. Moreover, although Hotbar’s several types of advertising are labeled in some way, this labeling is not as clear and prominent as it ought to be. Finally, though the software can be uninstalled from the “Add/Remove Programs” Control Panel applet, Hotbar uses a randomly named resuscitator program to resist removal by anti-spyware software.

In light of these problematic practices, Sunbelt Software is entirely justified in offering Hotbar and its related programs as a detection to users. Until now, Sunbelt has classified this software as a “Low Risk Adware” program (http://research.sunbelt-software.com/threat_library_browse. cfm?Low Risk Adware). The practices and qualities described earlier in this review do not fit a “Low Risk Adware” program, though, especially given the misleading notice, disclosure, choice, and consent practices employed by Hotbar in several of its installations.

Thus, the Sunbelt Research Team recommends that Sunbelt Software reclassify Hotbar as an “Adware” program (http://research.sunbelt-software.com/threat_library_browse.cfm?Adware) and adjust the “Threat Level” and “Default Action” for this software accordingly.

1. Threat Type

Hotbar should be re-classified from “Low Risk Adware” to “Adware.”

2. Threat Level

Hotbar’s “Threat Level” should be changed from “Low Risk” (5) to “Moderate Risk” (4).

3. Default Action

The “Default Action” for Hotbar should be changed from “Ignore” to “Quarantine.”

By making these changes, Sunbelt Software can more effectively alert its users and customers to the presence of software they may not fully understand and provide advice that more appropriately reflects Hotbar’s several troubling practices.

Alex Eckelberry