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<title>Proprietary Software
- GNU Project - Free Software Foundation</title>
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<h2>Proprietary Software Is Often Malware</h2>

<div id="skiplinks">
<p class="button"><a href="#TOC">Table of contents</a></p>
<p class="button"><a href="#latest">Latest additions</a></p>
</div>
<div style="clear: both"></div>

<div id="about-section">
<p>Proprietary software, also called nonfree software,
means software that doesn't
<a href="/philosophy/free-sw.html">respect users' freedom and
community</a>.  A proprietary program puts its developer or owner
<a href="/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html">
in a position of power over its users.</a>
This power is in itself an injustice.</p>

<p>The point of this page is that the initial injustice of proprietary
software often leads to further injustices: malicious
functionalities.</p>

<p>In this section, we also list <a
href="/proprietary/malware-mobiles.html#phone-communications">one
other malicious characteristic of mobile phones, location tracking</a>
which is caused by the underlying radio system rather than by the
specific software in them.</p>

<p>Power corrupts; the proprietary program's developer is tempted to
design the program to mistreat its users.  (Software whose functioning
mistreats the user is called <em>malware</em>.)  Of course, the
developer usually does not do this out of malice, but rather to profit
more at the users' expense.  That does not make it any less nasty or
more legitimate.</p>

<p>Yielding to that temptation has become ever more frequent; nowadays
it is standard practice.  Modern proprietary software is typically
a way to be had.</p>
<hr class="thin" />
</div>

<p>As of April, 2017, December, 2021, the files pages in this directory list around 300 550
instances of malicious functionalities, functionalities (with more than 630 references to
back them up), but there are surely thousands more we don't know about.</p>

<div class="toc">
<div class="companies">
<h3>Company

<p>If you want to be notified when we add new items or type of product</h3>
<ul> make other changes,
subscribe to the <a
href="https://lists.gnu.org/mailman/listinfo/www-malware-commits">mailing list
<www-malware-commits@gnu.org></a>.</p>

<table id="TOC">
 <tr>
  <th>Injustices or techniques</th>
  <th>Products or companies</th>
 </tr>
 <tr>
  <td>
   <ul class="columns">
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-apple.html">Apple Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions.html">Addictions</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-microsoft.html">Microsoft Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-back-doors.html">Back doors</a> (<a href="#f1">1</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-google.html">Google Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-censorship.html">Censorship</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-adobe.html">Adobe Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-coverups.html">Coverups</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-amazon.html">Amazon Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-deception.html">Deception</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-webpages.html">Malware in webpages</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-drm.html">DRM</a> (<a href="#f2">2</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-mobiles.html">Malware in mobile devices</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-fraud.html">Fraud</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-games.html">Malware in games</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-incompatibility.html">Incompatibility</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-appliances.html">Malware in appliances</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-insecurity.html">Insecurity</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-cars.html">Malware in cars</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-interference.html">Interference</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-jails.html">Jails</a> (<a href="#f3">3</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-manipulation.html">Manipulation</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-obsolescence.html">Obsolescence</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-sabotage.html">Sabotage</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-subscriptions.html">Subscriptions</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-surveillance.html">Surveillance</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-tethers.html">Tethers</a> (<a href="#f4">4</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-tyrants.html">Tyrants</a> (<a href="#f5">5</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/potential-malware.html">In the pipe</a></li>
   </ul>
</div>

<div class="malfunctions">
<h3>Type of malware</h3>
  </td>
  <td>
   <ul>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-back-doors.html">Back doors</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-appliances.html">Appliances</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-censorship.html">Censorship</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-cars.html">Cars</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-coverups.html">Coverups</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-in-online-conferencing.html">Conferencing</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-deception.html">Deception</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-edtech.html">Ed Tech</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-incompatibility.html">Incompatibility</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-games.html">Games</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-insecurity.html">Insecurity</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-mobiles.html">Mobiles</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-interference.html">Interference</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-webpages.html">Webpages</a></li>
    
   </ul>
   <ul>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-sabotage.html">Sabotage</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-adobe.html">Adobe</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-surveillance.html">Surveillance</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-amazon.html">Amazon</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-subscriptions.html">Subscriptions</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-apple.html">Apple</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-tethers.html">Tethers</a> to
servers</li> href="/proprietary/malware-google.html">Google</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-drm.html">Digital href="/proprietary/malware-microsoft.html">Microsoft</a></li>
   </ul>
  </td>
 </tr>
 <tr>
  <td colspan="2">
   <ol>
    <li id="f1"><em>Back door:</em>  any feature of a program
     that enables someone who is not supposed to be in control of the
     computer where it is installed to send it commands.</li>

    <li id="f2"><em>Digital restrictions
    management</a> management, or “DRM” means
     “DRM”:</em>  functionalities designed to restrict
     what users can do with the data in their computers.</li>
<li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-jails.html">Jails</a>—systems

    <li id="f3"><em>Jail:</em>  system that impose imposes censorship on
     application programs.</li>
<li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-tyrants.html">Tyrants</a>—systems

    <li id="f4"><em>Tether:</em>  functionality that requires
     permanent (or very frequent) connection to a server.</li>

    <li id="f5"><em>Tyrant:</em>  system that reject rejects any operating
     system not “authorized” by the manufacturer.</li>
<li><a href="/proprietary/potential-malware.html">Potential Malware</a></li>
</ul>
</div>
</div>
   </ol>
  </td>
 </tr>
</table>

<p>Users of proprietary software are defenseless against these forms
of mistreatment.  The way to avoid them is by insisting on
<a href="/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html">free
(freedom-respecting) software.</a> software</a>.  Since free software is controlled
by its users, they have a pretty good defense against malicious
software functionality.</p>

<h3 id="latest">Latest additions</h3>

<ul class="blurbs">
  <li id="M202201050">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2022-01</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>The Norton 360 antivirus <a
    href="https://www.howtogeek.com/777952/norton-360-antivirus-now-mines-cryptocurrency/">updated
    its program to install a cryptocurrency miner on users' computers</a>
    without people's permission. The miner is not turned on by default but
    there is no way to completely uninstall the crypto mining software,
    which has upset some users.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202201010">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2022-01</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>The legacy company that made
    Blackberry phones is about to kill them off <a
    href="https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/01/tech/blackberry-end-of-life/index.html">by
    shutting down the server they are tethered to</a>.</p>

    <p>If the software on those phones were free (as in freedom),
    people could modify their software so they could talk to some other
    server.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201003280">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2010-03</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Sony restricted access to the PlayStation 3 GPU, so people
    who installed a GNU/Linux operating system on the console couldn't
    use it at full capacity. When some of them broke the restriction, <a
    href="https://blog.playstation.com/2010/03/28/ps3-firmware-v3-21-update/">Sony
    removed the ability to install other operating
    systems</a>. Then users broke that restriction too, but <a
    href="https://www.engadget.com/2011/01/12/sony-follows-up-officially-sues-geohot-and-fail0verflow-over-ps/">got
    sued by Sony</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M200512270">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2005-12</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>To install and use third-party operating
    systems and programs on the Xbox console, <a
    href="https://events.ccc.de/congress/2005/fahrplan/attachments/591-paper_xbox.pdf">people
    had to break the restrictions imposed by Microsoft</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202111201">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2021-11</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>NordicTrack, a company that sells
    exercise machines with ability to show videos <a
    href="https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2021/11/locked-out-of-god-mode-runners-are-hacking-their-treadmills/">limits
    what people can watch, and recently disabled a feature</a> that was
    originally functional. This happened through automatic update and
    probably involved a universal back door.</p>
  </li>
</ul>
<p class="button right-align">
<a href="/proprietary/all.html">More items…</a></p>
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