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Web address
Type of site
User tracking software
Available in English
Launched March 2010
Alexa rank
2,366 (April 2014)[1]
Current status Online, Beta

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, privacy-invasive software, grayware,[2] or malware.[3] 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]

Company overview[edit]

Genieo Innovation was founded in April 2008 by Sol Tzvi and Jacob Tenenboem, with the goal of developing a personalization platform which, unlike common platforms, resides solely on the user's computer and enables desktop application providers to add personalization capabilities without jeopardizing the user's privacy. Based on concepts of text mining, behavioral targeting and personalization algorithms, Genieo has developed a framework that can automatically discover, manage and filter feeds according to users' topics of interest. On July 2008, the company raised initial funding from private investors[8] and began developing the core of its personalization and recommendation engine. During 2009 the company developed and released its first product, a dynamic homepage that utilizes Genieo's personalization framework to automatically create a personal newspaper-like homepage on the user's browser.

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.

Genieo Homepage limited version was released at September 2009,[9] and the beta version was launched at the Demo2010 conference on March 2010.[10] Genieo's website has been down and it is suspected that it has changed its name to InKeepr.[11]

Malware issues[edit]

In May 2013, a malicious installer, distributed by Genieo partner Softonic,[12] was found by security software company Intego. The installer masquerades as a necessary update to Adobe Flash Player and attempts to install without user interaction. Dynamic libraries are added to the Safari browser, which intercept searches intended for Bing and Google.[13]

Other versions of Genieo for Mac have also been offered as 'codecs' required for video playback.[14] Testing carried out on Genieo for Mac in June 2013 found that it left active software behind, after using the supplied uninstaller, which required detailed manual removal.[14][15][16]

In November 2013, another fake application installer was reported to include Genieo adware. [17]

In January 2014, Sophos added Genieo for Mac to their threat list; in the category Viruses and Spyware : Trojan horse (computing) : Adware .[18]

As of November 2014, Genieo for Mac is flagged by Intego (mentioned above)[13][15] 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[19]

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.[20] 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.

Apple now provides detailed instructions on how to remove Genieo/Installmac & other adware : Remove unwanted adware that displays pop-up ads and graphics on your Mac.

Genieo case became the impetus for the rapid emergence of similar adware: Only Search, MacShop Ads, MacVX, etc.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]