Most of use are well aware of the need to protect ourselves from computer viruses, identity theft and phishing scams. However, there is one item that a lot of people tend to ignore, but equally vital. This is the end user license agreement (EULA) that comes with the software that you are using. While these agreements do not in themselves harm a computer system, they can however highlight things that can put you at risk which, if ignored, exposes one to computer security risks and put one’s privacy at risk. For example, a user agreement may allow a software publisher to collect information about your internet activity that includes the websites you visit as well as the information that you supply online such as your name, email address, credit card number and other online transactions. Since a EULA is a legal contract, the software publisher has the legal right to undertake any software license tracking that is agreed upon on the contract which may include third-party monitoring or allowing other users access to parts of your computer system.
By clicking on the “I accept” button, you allow software license tracking to take place when the software publisher imposes those terms and conditions on the contract. Thus, before you install any software, read the EULA carefully. Also consider the software publisher, beware of firewall prompts during the installation and beware of “free” software.
A case in point is one organization that notices a troublesome piece of software that came bundled with a tool for speeding internet downloads. The EULA for the software included a part of the agreement that stated that the software “monitors all of your internet behavior, including both the normal web browsing you perform, and also the activity you may have through secure sessions, such as when filling a shopping basket or filling out an application form that may contain personal financial and heath information.” You can imagine the amount of information that had already been collected before the IT department realized what was happening.
Software license tracking by monitoring the users’ internet activities and sharing this information with advertisers is also common in file-sharing P2P programs. A user agrees to open up documents and directories on his or her computer for others to access. One such program even requires that you install a bundled software that makes your computer a distribution channel for content publishers and third-party software. Clearly, before you install any applications, take time to read through the EULA.