Lenovo has been secretly using an integrated Windows feature to automatically install their software suite even after a complete reformat. This was first discovered by Ars Technica forum user “ge814” and corroborated by Hacker News user “chuckup”. Essentially, Lenovo devices exploit a rootkit which prevents users from removing any Lenovo-branded software and overwrites a system file every time the PC boots.
So how does this work? Lenovo utilizes the Windows Platform Binary Table which was introduced in November 2011 to force software installation from the BIOS. ACPI tables are at the forefront of this terrible revelation and automatically configured during a fresh Windows install. In this particular case, the Lenovo Search Engine downloads a program without your consent, entitled OneKey Optimizer. This piece of software is supposedly bundled to:
“Enhance PC performance by updating firmware, drivers and pre-installed apps as well as “scanning junk files and find factors that influence system performance.”
To make matters worse, the software relays information back to Lenovo for marketing purposes to gauge how customers use different hardware. Staggeringly, none of this is mentioned and the end-user has no option to opt out of this horrific anti-privacy technique. Lenovo defends the OneKey Optimizer and suggests the data collected is not,
“Personally identifiable information.”
However, I doubt any customer will trust them considering the lack of transparency surrounding this matter. Shockingly, if Windows 7, 8 or 10 is installed, the BIOS checks “C:\Windows\system32\autochk.exe” to determine if the file is signed by Microsoft or Lenovo. If the signature is still a Microsoft one, Lenovo overwrites the file without your permission. Thankfully, there is a fix using this link but what percentage of users are either aware of this or comfortable to make a BIOS revision.
The idea that a hardware manufacturer can force their own bloatware at a BIOS level is absurd. Give the consumer choice and let them install the software as an additional extra. Is it so difficult to purchase a laptop with just the vanilla operating system?
Thank you The Next Web for providing us with this information.