With CNET and similar download hosting sites, you always have to be careful with links
to download anything. Clicking the link may redirect to another downloading site which uses heavy and confusing advertising
with more download links. Clicking on the incorrect link (thinking its the one you want) often results in downloading a program the user did not intend to download. Sometimes looking at the name of the setup file before saving it to your hard drive, will give a clue to what you are actually downloading so you can cancel out of it.
Further, many third-party hosting sites bundle toolbars and other software in their download packages as a way to increase vendor revenue and recoup business costs through the distribution of third party software. This practice is now the most common revenue generator for free downloadsCNET.com
, publishes this Software bundling Policy
Any additional programs or third-party items included with the downloadable file must be clearly disclosed in the CNET Downloads product description and during the installation process. Users must be given a way to opt out of all additional items during installation, or they must be given an opportunity to cancel the installation completely.
The safest practice is to use the vendor's official home site
but in some cases, they too will redirect you to another hosting site which practices bundling or uses confusing advertisements resulting in downloading software you did not intend to download. In fact even if you download and install legitimate software from a direct source it is still possible for the vender to bundle unwanted software into the package and you may not be aware.CNET Downloads software policies
CNET.com/Download.com malware policies
We test all software products submitted to us against a comprehensive set of criteria. In addition to screening for common viruses and spyware, we also look for other threats that might interfere with our users' security, privacy, and control. We consider publisher Web sites, publisher conduct, and our own experience with a particular product...We will not list software that contains viruses, Trojan horses, malicious adware, spyware, or other potentially harmful components. We will not list products known to contain such items in instances outside CNET Downloads, and we may disallow products from publishers our editors feel violate the spirit of this policy.
When it comes to fighting malware--a nasty group of software that includes adware, spyware, viruses, Trojans, and rootkits--CNET Download.com has always been in your corner. We have always manually evaluated every downloadable Windows product that we list on the site, and since 2005, we've had a zero-tolerance policy that prohibits all undisclosed bundled software and all software that serves browser pop-up ads...Every time you download software from Download.com, you can trust that we've tested it and found it to be free of malware. All product submissions are scanned via automated and manual scans to ensure compliance. Discoveries of malware components result in rejection or expulsion from our download library...
While our malware policies are clear and well communicated to all Download.com team members, we are not immune to mistakes. If you find a product you think could be considered malware listed on Download.com, please click the "Report a Problem" link underneath the "Quick Specs" section of every Windows product page. A communication window provides the selection "This program has malware" with a description field to include as much info as you can to help us determine the program's safety.
A quick note on false positives: the security-software market is extremely competitive, with many high-quality programs hoping to attract users. The downside of that competition is that some products can be overly aggressive in detecting malware, leading to "false positive" reports. We use a combination of security software to gauge the overall safety of the program. In short, if one security app flags something, that doesn't automatically make it malware to us.
Also see this discussion thread: Your opinions at the security of CNET