An interesting tweet showed up in my timeline from the San Diego Padres encouraging fans to download their new official browser theme. I clicked through with no intention of downloading, but interested in what they were doing from a technical aspect. The screenshot of the decked out browser caught my attention, what inevitably will be overlooked by most stuck out like a sore thumb. The search box is not Google or Bing, but a 3rd party interested in making money off re-directing user searches.
I work for a company that repairs and fixes computer and see this type of issue all the time from frustrated users. Though Websearch+ (the particular ‘premium’ search being used in this case) may not be a typical virus or malware, there’s no question it’s malicious in nature. Which is why the most concerning thing may be the stamp of approval saying it’s “100% malware free.”
Even from just a concerned user standpoint, typing “Websearch+” into Google is littered with results like “How to remove Websearch+.” In fact, there’s not one positive or favorable result for the search in the first 5 pages. Everyone wants to know why things are popping up, how to get rid of it, or why it’s re-directing them to places they didn’t want to go. This type of ‘premium search’ scam isn’t new, but in the past it has come from less than reputable sites promoting glittery new cursors or free desktop backgrounds, not from the pages of MLB and official sports teams.
Simply put, this is unacceptable and not consumer friendly.
Searching @brandthunder’s Twitter stream, you can find other examples of teams supporting the malicious practice including NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks