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Can You Trust Your Spyware Protection?
PCWorld.com through Yahoo! News ^ | May 31, 2005 | Andrew Brandt

Posted on 05/31/2005 6:41:03 PM PDT by El Conservador

The next time you run a scan with your anti-spyware tool, it might miss some programs. Several anti-spyware firms, including Aluria, Lavasoft, and PestPatrol, have quietly stopped detecting adware from companies like Claria and WhenU--a process called delisting. Those adware companies have been petitioning anti-spyware firms to delist their software; other companies have resorted to sending cease-and-desist letters that threaten legal action.

In most cases it's difficult for customers to determine whether their anti-spyware tool has delisted anything and, if so, which adware it skips.

"When a spyware program gets delisted, users won't be aware of its presence," says Harvard law student and spyware researcher Ben Edelman. The practice, he says, "offers spyware makers a new lease on life, letting them keep users who otherwise would have removed their software."

Degrees of Spyware

Of course, some spyware apps are worse than others. One spyware program may make severe changes to your computer's settings, while another merely displays ads.

Claria and WhenU are making the case that their adware programs don't resort to illegal tactics, such as exploiting security holes, to install themselves. And though this software can be annoying, adware developers argue that merely being listed in an anti-spyware scanner's database tarnishes a company's reputation by linking its relatively benign adware application with far more harmful and intrusive spyware programs.

According to Avi Naider of WhenU, though some other adware companies will track your Web meanderings and sell that data, WhenU's privacy policy doesn't permit it to track the search queries that users type or the Web pages that they browse.

Each anti-spyware firm uses its own set of criteria to decide whether to remove or detect a file or Registry key related to spyware. Usually even a few bad behaviors suffice to red-tag a file as spyware or adware.

Peter Mackow of PCTools, maker of the Spyware Doctor anti-spyware program, says that his company won't publish the entire list of its criteria for fear that spyware companies will use the information to design a spyware application that skirts every rule. That is a position shared by many others who fight spyware.

"The spyware guys want a really rigid set of rules defining spyware so they can then make an end run around [all of them]," says Eric L. Howes, who tracks the spyware business for Spywarewarrior.com and consults for anti-spyware software companies.

Experts recommend that you employ two--or even three--anti-spyware tools. The more you use, the likelier they are to counter the individual biases of each anti-spyware company.

To Delist or Not

It's unfair to permanently blacklist a company based on its past behavior, so some delisting is inevitable. But delisting an adware application is a dangerous proposition for anti-spyware developers. In the past, some spyware and adware makers have changed their software enough to get delisted only to resume the activity that got them flagged in the first place.

As a result, the anti-spyware industry has developed a thick skin. Delisting is rare because, Edelman says, anti-spyware firms "stand up to strongly worded demand letters."

Adware companies also decry the word spyware itself as inherently negative, so some anti-spyware firms have tried to create terms that mean essentially the same thing, using more-neutral language: grayware, potentially unwanted programs, or potentially unwanted software. But Webroot's CEO David Moll argues that matters could get more confusing if the anti-spyware companies try to refer to spyware by other names, just when many people are beginning to understand what spyware can do.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: adware; backdoor; exploit; gator; getamac; internetexploiter; lookoutexpress; lowqualitycrap; microsoft; securityflaw; spyware; trojan; virus; virusbait; windows; worm
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The mofos won't stop until every damn computer is infectd!!!
1 posted on 05/31/2005 6:41:03 PM PDT by El Conservador
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To: El Conservador
I don't trust the Microsoft Beta Spyware software! It's no damn good!

Spybot and Ad-Aware catch a whole lot more!

2 posted on 05/31/2005 6:43:44 PM PDT by Sen Jack S. Fogbound (Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead !)
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To: El Conservador

Don't use just one antispyware program. Microsoft has a free one.


3 posted on 05/31/2005 6:43:47 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative (Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Andrew Heyward's got to go!)
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To: El Conservador

Here is a good definition: If the software loads onto my computer and I didn't know about or want it, its spyware and its evil and its owners names should be publicly displayed that they can be stalked, harrassed and beatened (up to the limits of the laws in their resident states).


4 posted on 05/31/2005 6:44:25 PM PDT by bpjam (Now accepting liberal apologies.....)
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To: El Conservador

My machine will let me get to Yahoo one time. same with google and lycos and altavista. but locks me out until I reboot. Spent 4 hours scanning, anti-virusing, trojan hunting, etc and still isn't right.

Oh well.


5 posted on 05/31/2005 6:44:29 PM PDT by lawdude (Liberalism is a mental disease.)
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To: bpjam
Here is a good definition: If the software loads onto my computer and I didn't know about or want it, its spyware and its evil and its owners names should be publicly displayed that they can be stalked, harrassed and beatened (up to the limits of the laws in their resident states).

Well stated, sir/madame. Succinct and trenchant.

6 posted on 05/31/2005 6:48:14 PM PDT by jammer
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To: El Conservador
It is far better to stop it from getting on your box in the first place, than scanning and removing after wards.

I recommend Spyware Blaster and Spyware Guard from Javacool Software.

They are free. (You can donate something later, if you like them.)

7 posted on 05/31/2005 6:55:42 PM PDT by PeaceBeWithYou (De Oppresso Liber! (50 million and counting in Afganistan and Iraq))
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To: lawdude
My machine will let me get to Yahoo one time. same with google and lycos and altavista. but locks me out until I reboot. Spent 4 hours scanning, anti-virusing, trojan hunting, etc and still isn't right.

Sounds to me like something has your registry screwed up. It could be a faulty uninstall which left a rogue *.dll on your system, but I'd go with the registry first.

Check here.


8 posted on 05/31/2005 7:00:06 PM PDT by rdb3 (One may smile and smile and still be a villain.)
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To: lawdude

yea, some of these spyware/malware programs hide themselves in the registry such that they are nearly impossible to get rid of. One of the most common is coolwebsearch (and it's variants), you might try the cool web shredder program.


9 posted on 05/31/2005 7:04:13 PM PDT by 95Tarheel
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To: rdb3

This is why the user community, open source (even though I hate the term), and FREE software are keys.

The scumware guys can threaten the white hats who are trying to prevent the spread of this evil but they have little chance of suppressing them for long.

Commercial anti-spyware vendors, however, are a nice fat target for lawsuits. If a scumware maker wins any significant amount of money in a court case where he accuses a CA, Microsoft, or McAfee of wrongly blacklisting his 'utility,' there will be yet another rush of cases. Why make $0.00004 per click-through when you can sue for $30 million and pocket $2-3 of it after lawyer fees?

In other words, these guys start with no morals and go downhill from there.

Google search for Weatherbug and Jay Hoffman - this idiot surfs boards and news sites constantly to rebut claims that Weatherbug is not spyware. Pick your term Jay, if it makes you happy. Weatherbug is a horrible piece of software. If you must know the temperature, stick your head outside. If you want the forecase, turn on the Weather Channel on TV or the web.

Scumware makers must die!


10 posted on 05/31/2005 7:06:39 PM PDT by relictele (so there)
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To: El Conservador

Let me come into your home unannounced and without your permission and install electronic monitoring equipment to report back to me your comings and goings.

Let me sneek into your garage and install a horsepower robbing device in your SUV that will reveal your driving habits to me without your permission. (...and prevent you from turning left every third or fourth time you try.)


11 posted on 05/31/2005 7:07:10 PM PDT by Delta 21 (MKC USCG -ret)
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To: relictele

Corrected typos:

Scumware makers might pocket $2-3 MILLION, not two or three bucks.

Hoffman rebuts Weatherbug-is-spyware claims.


12 posted on 05/31/2005 7:08:17 PM PDT by relictele (so there)
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To: relictele
SCUMWARE

13 posted on 05/31/2005 7:08:36 PM PDT by Delta 21 (MKC USCG -ret)
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To: El Conservador

Time to switch to Macs!


14 posted on 05/31/2005 7:18:57 PM PDT by Wacka
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To: El Conservador

I use three companies: Webroot, McAfee, and Lavasoft.
I don't want ANY spyware, adware, or anything else that I didn't deliberately install or agree, in some way, to have installed. I pay all three of these companies a fee to scan for and remove ALL of this crap, not most of it. If I find out that one of these companies is taking money to "delist" somebody, I will request my money back.


15 posted on 05/31/2005 7:19:02 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: relictele

Weatherbug is one of the most insidious pieces of garbage out there.


16 posted on 05/31/2005 7:19:34 PM PDT by fat city (Julius Rosenberg's soviet code name was "Liberal")
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To: Delta 21

Amen to that.


17 posted on 05/31/2005 7:21:19 PM PDT by Choose Ye This Day (Somos un país soberano en una época de guerra. ¿Por qué no podemos defender nuestra frontera?)
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To: Sen Jack S. Fogbound
"Spybot and Ad-Aware catch a whole lot more!"

And Microsoft catches things that Spybot and Ad-Aware misses! The problem with all these is that you really need to use them all in order to clean everything. Why can't someone put all of them together?

18 posted on 05/31/2005 7:21:40 PM PDT by TommyDale
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To: PeaceBeWithYou
WhatEVER are you all talking about?

---a Mac guy

19 posted on 05/31/2005 7:22:13 PM PDT by zeebee
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To: bpjam

I like your definition, and this opportunity to bump the thread.


20 posted on 05/31/2005 7:25:37 PM PDT by Radix (Having the best Free Republic Tag Lines since...what time is it anyhow?)
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To: El Conservador

I have Norton which updates all the time - and I have Ad-Aware SE which checks for updates every week when I run it.


21 posted on 05/31/2005 7:26:07 PM PDT by CyberAnt (President Bush: "America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth")
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To: bpjam

'Here is a good definition: If the software loads onto my computer and I didn't know about or want it, its spyware and its evil...'

Exactly!


22 posted on 05/31/2005 7:30:31 PM PDT by msjhall
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To: 95Tarheel
...One of the most common is coolwebsearch (and it's variants),...

That one is the worst. I even had the coolwebsearch techs trying to help me get rid of it and couldn't.

I gave up on the box and transfered all my important files to a new PC.

23 posted on 05/31/2005 7:33:24 PM PDT by FReepaholic (When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading)
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To: relictele

What does weatherbug do that makes it spyware?


24 posted on 05/31/2005 7:38:22 PM PDT by HairOfTheDog
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To: zeebee
What took you so long?

LOL

25 posted on 05/31/2005 7:40:36 PM PDT by perfect stranger (I need new glasses.)
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To: HairOfTheDog
weatherbug.com

Don't click the above link.

26 posted on 05/31/2005 7:43:54 PM PDT by perfect stranger (I need new glasses.)
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To: fat city

What does it do?


27 posted on 05/31/2005 7:44:19 PM PDT by HairOfTheDog
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To: perfect stranger

I have had it on my machine for years... no trouble at all from it. That's why I'm asking what it does.


28 posted on 05/31/2005 7:45:06 PM PDT by HairOfTheDog
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To: lawdude

I'm going through something similar except I can't even get windows XP to come up on my computer.

I've got my old one hooked up to the internet now, and my 6 month old dell is out of commission till I can either figure out how to fix it or reinstall windows.

Not sure how this happened but it has been BAD! I'm trying to use some old files from windows restore to fix it but not having much success.


29 posted on 05/31/2005 7:45:31 PM PDT by shattered
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To: HairOfTheDog
I've never heard of it 'til now.

I'm glad it works for you, some others don't like it much.

30 posted on 05/31/2005 7:49:55 PM PDT by perfect stranger (I need new glasses.)
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To: Lancey Howard

I'm using the Webroot now (Spysweeper). I like it so far. Dumped Norton off and just use AVG free.

I've got 4 computers in the house and 2 kids. If there's something bad out there, they will find it. :-)

So far so good with the Webroot. Haven't had anything bad happen since I installed it. I was using PC Safe but it let me down, so I went with Webroot on a friends recommendation.

Too bad there ain't a magic bullet for all of it. The guy who comes up with that is going to be rich.


31 posted on 05/31/2005 7:55:05 PM PDT by planekT (Go DeLay, Go!)
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To: shattered

Good Luck. Same thing happened on my new Acer notebook computer. Had to use the restore dick and lost everything on the computer. Fortunately my other 'puter is Mac.


32 posted on 05/31/2005 7:55:12 PM PDT by passionfruit
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To: perfect stranger

I love it... wondering why it's getting all the bad press.


33 posted on 05/31/2005 7:56:41 PM PDT by HairOfTheDog
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To: HairOfTheDog

Try to remove it and see what happens.


34 posted on 05/31/2005 7:59:09 PM PDT by ChuckHam
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To: lawdude
Same here, on my desktop! If I want to check my e-mail I might as well get on the laptop. What's with that?

I keep getting the "Action cancelled" page.

35 posted on 05/31/2005 7:59:48 PM PDT by Tuscaloosa Goldfinch (Thank goodness "Terayza" is not first lady.)
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To: HairOfTheDog

I'm sure a few will come along and tell you soon enough.


36 posted on 05/31/2005 8:00:04 PM PDT by perfect stranger (I need new glasses.)
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To: El Conservador

Spyware was the last straw for me. I ditched my PC and bought an iMac and have not regretted it one whit since. I just use the thing and no more playing cat and mouse with all the crap on the internet. I could care less about brands and loyalty to companies so don't start the harang about Macs. It just works and that's all I care about.


37 posted on 05/31/2005 8:03:24 PM PDT by strongbow
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To: ChuckHam

I don't want to remove it if it's doing no wrong.


38 posted on 05/31/2005 8:04:07 PM PDT by HairOfTheDog
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To: PeaceBeWithYou
It is far better to stop it from getting on your box in the first place

Removed Aurora this morning. It's a real charmer. It required two separate scans and removals and two separate kills while running in safe mode.

39 posted on 05/31/2005 8:07:57 PM PDT by Stentor
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To: BibChr

pingomai


40 posted on 05/31/2005 8:08:52 PM PDT by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: HairOfTheDog

Seems to me that something you install on purpose isn't spyware. Especially if it does no harm.


41 posted on 05/31/2005 8:11:04 PM PDT by Ramius
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To: ChuckHam
Try to remove it and see what happens.

By that definition, Realplayer and Quicktime are also spyware. I hate them, but they're not spyware.

42 posted on 05/31/2005 8:13:23 PM PDT by Ramius
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To: tscislaw; 95Tarheel
"...One of the most common is coolwebsearch (and it's variants),..."

"That one is the worst. I even had the coolwebsearch techs trying to help me get rid of it and couldn't.

I gave up on the box and transfered all my important files to a new PC."


Try these people out. They helped me this last weekend with a nasty little VX2 on my kid's puter.
43 posted on 05/31/2005 8:16:23 PM PDT by DocRock
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To: Ramius

Heh... yeah - seems to me. I like Weatherbug... I get one popup from it when I click it to get forecasts... but it's the only popup I ever get, I use Google's popup blocker and get by OK otherwise.

I like the current temp thingy and the click to get the forecasts. I also like the severe weather alert warnings that come out on it.

I have MS's Antispyware tool running, but it's never found more than two or three items ever. I've just not ever had trouble with spyware, 'cept when I got Gator, but I was hanging out in places I shouldn't have been and so I almost deserved it ;~D


44 posted on 05/31/2005 8:17:18 PM PDT by HairOfTheDog
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To: Ramius

Quicktime and Realplayer don't exist on my PC either. If a program can't be removed easily and completely then I won't use it.


45 posted on 05/31/2005 8:17:54 PM PDT by ChuckHam
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To: Ramius

WE've been running weatherbug for a couple of years as well, no problems. In fact, the machine with weatherbug on it has had no problems whatsoever, while my machine has gotten internet phlegm several times.

No complaints here.


46 posted on 05/31/2005 8:18:07 PM PDT by Big Giant Head (I should change my tagline to "Big Giant Pancake on my Head")
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To: passionfruit
Had to use the restore dick....

Sometimes it DOES feel that way, right?

47 posted on 05/31/2005 8:19:49 PM PDT by GoldCountryRedneck (Life is so short. Play naked.)
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To: Sen Jack S. Fogbound

Have you figured out a way to get either of those programs to run a scan on a schedule?


48 posted on 05/31/2005 8:19:50 PM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (If you only knew the powerrrrr of the Tagline.)
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To: Sen Jack S. Fogbound

Webroot Spy Sweeper is damn good....it isnt free though.


49 posted on 05/31/2005 8:20:09 PM PDT by Stellar Dendrite (Saddam: $25k to suicide bombers = BAD --- Bush: 50 mil to terrorist scum = "GOOD")
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To: HairOfTheDog
Jay? Is that you?;-)

To be technically correct, weatherbug is adware, extremly badly written adware that causes crashing and lockups. Some versions have been worse than others.

Some early versions may have been allowing backplane installation of other ad and malware, and they have since, supposedly, cleaned up their act.

Intellicast has a similar application with no adware AFAIK.

50 posted on 05/31/2005 8:21:40 PM PDT by PeaceBeWithYou (De Oppresso Liber! (50 million and counting in Afganistan and Iraq))
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