More Reasons to Avoid the Citrio Browser?

The reasons to avoid the Citrio browser just seem to multiply.

In February, we were contacted in response to an article I’d written about what’s going on with Citiro and why I recommend avoiding it. The email expressed concerns, complete with screenshots, and gave permission to use “in part or in full” to share with our readers.

This needs little from me by way of introduction; however, I will state that these findings have been confirmed and, while Darren’s opinions are his own, the facts don’t change and I stand by my original assessment to avoid Citrio even more firmly.

Remember when I showed you the extensions Citrio bundled? Note that, like a few others, the 4shared extension is auto-enabled upon installation. But that doesn’t sound like a bad idea, right?

Wrong. Read on.

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Subject: About “Citrio” browser
Date: Sun, 8 Feb 2015 14:14:24 -0500
From: Darren Malcolm
To: Staff 

Hello my friend, my name is Darren.

I just finished reading your review of the Citrio browser, and yes it certainly has a lot of red flags. The reason I’m contacting you today is because I would like to share with you another shady tactic that they are using to get unsuspecting users to download and install their browser.  You may find this very interesting, and so I figured that you can use this as fodder if they ever contact you again to try to convince you and the world that their browser is “100% Clean”.

Before I begin, I just want to say that if you feel the need to post anything in part or in full from this e-mail to further warn your visitors, then please feel free to do so. After all, information is knowledge.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the file hosting website 4shared.com. It’s a very popular website with close to 11 million users. Well, today I came across a website called “4shared.rapidrip.com”. When I first entered the website, Malwarebytes immediately detected it as malicious and had blocked access to it. So, because of my aching need to investigate, I quickly added an exception so that I would be able to view the site. And then lo and behold, upon entering the site, I noticed it is an EXACT replica of 4shared.com.

Of course, that’s nothing new since there are literally hundreds of fake websites online posing as legitimate sites, but THIS particular site really peaked my interest. Anyway, I took a screenshot of the clone site which I posted below.

And so, out of curiosity I decided to click on the Premium link at the bottom just to see where it would take me. After doing so, I was taken to a page that gives it’s visitors the options of purchasing a 1 month, 3 month, 6 month, or 1 year Premium account, just like 4shared. However, unlike 4shared, the super duper nice guys who developed THIS website had decided that Premium accounts would be completely “FREE for Citrio users”.  Awwww, bless their little hearts. See below….
This is how I heard about the Citrio browser. I had never heard about this browser before until I came across this bogus website today. And so, I typed Citrio into Google, and among the results were various warnings NOT to use this browser, which ultimately led me to YOUR website and review. Thank you so much by the way for your in depth analysis of this particular browser. There is definitely some shady practices going on here with completely malicious intent.
If you go to the real 4shared.com website and click on the signup button, you’re taken to an encrypted page (green “https”) where one can register for an account. Pretty legit stuff.  
But, when you click the signup button on the clone site, not surprisingly, you get this…..
That is where I stopped. I felt no need to continue on to see what was next because I’m sure their signup page is going to be identical to that of 4shared, minus the encryption and security of course. 
So, with your previous analysis of Citrio, mixed with what I have learned today, it’s my observation that Citrio’s designer’s are nothing but a group of criminals who want you to download their browser SO bad, that they will resort to setting up fake clone websites just to tempt gullible people with “free premium accounts” to get you to not only share sensitive information with them during the signup process, but to get you to download Citrio in order to get your so called free premium account. Who knows how many more fake websites they have set up offering similar free premium accounts in exchange for downloading their “100% Clean” browser.
[End]
—————————————————————————-
Thank you, Darren. 
Citrio is indeed advertising a partnership with 4shared as shown in their promotional tweet.

In case the Powers-That-Be at Citrio delete the tweet (they seem fond of deleting material from their media as mentioned in my prior article) here’s a screenshot of it.

I wouldn’t want to be misleading so here’s that tweet in context from Citrio’s Twitter page/.

Now let’s see how 4shared‘s promoting this fantastic new alliance. A quick look at the 4shared Twitter shows no mention of Citrio. When I searched the official 4shared Blog for any mention of Citrio, this is what I found:

This is either the best kept promotional secret since the beginning of time – and remember, Citrio is owned by a marketing company – or something’s amiss here because it’s as if 4shared doesn’t even know what’s going on. But I digress. I wanted to show our readers a bit more in depth about how you were diverted from the actual 4shared site, and how you were able to prove it. 
It’s all in the web address so let’s take a closer look. 
This is 4shared.com
The sites don’t just look similar – “rapidrip” is a replica of 4shared. Or is it? 

In the first screenshot of the 4shared site you can see the “https” is in green . It reads as https://www.4shared.com/. That’s important and here’s what it means: To verify their identity, sites that use SSL present security certificates to Chrome. SSL secured pages will begin with “https” instead of “http” at the beginning of the web address. This also shows that Google has verified the 4shared site.

The “rapidrip” site at http://4shared.rapidrip.com/ does not have verification and does not have security certificates. Invalid certificates could mean that someone is trying to tamper with your connection. Think of it: Anyone can set up a website pretending to be another site, but only the real site has a valid security certificate for the URL you’re trying to reach. 

Note: For more information on how to find out if a site is legit, check out this WikiHow article and Google’s helpful guide on identifying secure (and not so secure) connections.

I admit my curiosity. 
I’m curious that you’ve been redirected to an unsecured, unverified site to buy a premium membership to 4shared that, if you download and use their browser, would be yours for free. I’m curious to know what information that “free premium account” offered to Citrio users requires. I’m wondering if they need your personal data or require a credit card to hold the “free premium account”. I’m curious as to why Citrio’s been promoting a partnership with 4shared but 4shared doesn’t seem to have mention of its new partnership with Citrio anywhere on the web. I’m wondering if 4shared even knows this is happening, as Citrio is collecting users from another site and redirecting users to another site using the 4shared brand. 
I have a lot of questions and since I can’t seem to find any real answers, I decided to contact 4shared directly. Like many of us, I’m curious to find out if they had any knowledge of (or association with) Citrio or the website “4shared.rapidrip.com” that the Citrio browser redirected you to. After all, isn’t this reminiscent of how email scams work? You know the ones I mean. The email notification says you have to change something about your account. The link redirects you to a replica of the site where you hold the account. When you use your credentials to log in, the scammers have your information. Could that be what’s happening here? 
I don’t know but I’ll keep you updated. 
Update [4 March 2015] There’s finally something about Citrio on the 4shared site. I have to wonder why it wasn’t there before. It would have been easy to notice, so it’s not like we missed it. Is it just coincidence that within twenty four hours of contacting 4shared about the mirror site and twelve hours after this article aired that this is now visible? There’s still nothing else about Epom or Citrio on their media, which is odd in itself,  but the “free premium account promotion” is finally there.

Note: If you value your personal data and privacy, you may not want to take this “free premium account” 4shared offer through Citrio, owned by the data collection and marketing company Epom. The browser is not only bundled with privacy-invasive extensions that have “collect, own, use and do not delete info about you” as a policy, but contains several questionable background processes that run from inception. For more information, please read Citrio Browser? Avoid it. 

Maybe this is just a slow, quiet marketing promotion; however, I find that hard to believe as “slow and quiet” doesn’t quite jive with Citrio’s loud, boastful style of aggressive marketing and branding. We may never know but I daresay marketing snafus aren’t the real issue when contemplating the Citrio browser. Truthfully, Citrio’s not a contender. There are too many concerns about this browser to recommend it as a real alternative in the already saturated market of Chrome clones. There are much better, safer, more useful browsers out there to choose from, and excellent extensions that will actually work for you. Why would you even risk it?

If you’re really in love with the idea of Chrome and you’re looking for a great browser that runs on the Chromium engine, try the original that started it all: Chromium. Google loved it so much, they made Chrome off it and Chrome-clones have been racing to grab a share of the market ever since. Chromium is everything people love about Chrome without the questionable aspects you’re trying to avoid. With the right extensions, you can navigate the web safely and smartly without sacrificing your personal data or privacy to anyone, whether it’s Citrio/Epom, Google or anyone else.

Until then, protect your privacy and personal data by making smarter choices. Because sometimes no is the smartest choice of all. 

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