Slacker Radio Service Delivers Viruses

I’ve been a huge fan of Internet radio service Slacker since I first read about the service on Techcrunch back in 2007. Since that time the service has gone through some growing pains with their team moving away from hardware devices and dedicating all resources to their software on third-party devices. I can’t blame them since their G2 Hardware player isn’t very reliable and the mobile device market continues to grow.


So you think with the recent refocus of the team that their radio service would deliver a top-notch radio experience? My buddy Ben, who I encouraged to try out the service, recently called me with bad news:

Friend: Dude, I think I got a virus…..
Me: How?
Friend: I was listening to Slacker radio and this message came up…all I could click was ‘okay’ and then all these pop-ups started popping up.
Me: …..Be there in 15 minutes

Ben works for one of my clients so I naturally went through the process of helping him remove the virus by granting me remote access to his computer. I got about 5 minutes in and realized that the trojan virus locked his computer down hard. This one was going to cost me a trip to the clients office, fun fun. I’ll detail in my next post how I successfully removed the infection from his computer.

Real Threat Lives in Advertisements:

The thing that pissed me off is that this happened not only once but twice. Honestly, I was skeptical at first because I’ve been listening to slacker for a long time on a mac :). The second time it happened I was there and was able to close Internet Explorer via task manager. Yeah I know, who uses IE anymore? Shrug, that’s not the point since 68% of the population still use the inferior browser. Anyway, so I headed over to the Slacker Forums to complain and found a thread of complaints had already been started.

Apparently the trojan/virus infections are being delivered through advertisements displayed to users who use the free service. Free users are subjected to three rotating adverts and audio adverts in exchange to listening to great music. Unfortunately, the new trade off that no on ever talked about is being subjected to PC infections.

Slacker’s Slacker Response:

Listen Slacker, I understand that it’s not necessarily your fault that viruses are being delivered since you don’t directly control the adverts that are delivered. However, I think you have to do better than that since most of your user base won’t believe the explanation. You’ll lose trust in your user base each time this happens (potential premium subscribers). The first thought that came to my head…..why doesn’t this happen when using Pandora?

Slacker Solution?

The fact of the matter as that we both know it happens no matter what service you use. However, your radio service has a choice when picking a vendor to deliver your adverts. Maybe you should consider choosing a company that has a better track record. Delivering virus infected adverts is for the birds and I think you’ll start losing users unless you address the issue head on. I know I didn’t appreciate seeing the warning on my friends computer.