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PC Spies at the Gate
Newsfactor ^ | 1-2-3 | By Lisa Gill

Posted on 01/07/2003 1:35:08 PM PST by weegee

Last spring, the public got a firsthand look at spyware's pervasiveness when it was discovered that peer-to-peer file-swapping app Kazaa was bundling a program designed to form a giant distributed network -- composed of Kazaa users' computers -- that could transmit information back to Brilliant Digital Entertainment, the company that created it. In effect, this network would use people's computers to perform work for Brilliant Digital.

The program had been distributed with Kazaa since the fall of 2001, according to a document that Brilliant filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in April.

Even though Brilliant said it would not "flip the switch" to turn on the distributed network without gaining user permission, Internet privacy Latest News about privacy advocates were outraged. Because Brilliant had installed its software on users' computers in a seemingly underhanded way -- notification of the program's inclusion was buried in Kazaa's user licensing agreement -- Kazaa assumed a permanent spot on routinely posted lists of spyware applications.

But many users seem blissfully unaware of spyware's reach. Kazaa Media Player was the number one PC download last week at and has topped the charts for the last 33 weeks. This week alone, the program exceeded 2.8 million downloads.

Can PC spies be stopped?

Spyware Rising

Without a doubt, use of software that monitors Internet activity without a user's knowledge is on the rise, according to Yankee Group security analyst Eric Ogren. Besides spyware embedded in downloadable apps, the number of active Web pages, which can transmit information about users to companies running ads on a page, also has increased, Ogren told NewsFactor.

Spyware monitoring groups, such as SpywareInfo, Counterexploitation and Spy Check, condemn the practice. Specifically, they name Adware, Alexa, Aureate, Cydoor, DSSAgent, EverAd, OnFlow, Gator and Webhancer as the guilty parties.

The most pervasive use of spyware appears to be in P2P file-sharing apps, particularly -- and now unsurprisingly -- Kazaa.

"In Kazaa there is at least one program, Cydoor, that you cannot opt out of, and if you remove that, Kazaa stops working until you reinstall it," Mike Healan, operator of the SpywareInfo Web site, told NewsFactor.

The watchdog groups also list file-sharing programs Bearshare, Imesh and Limewire as purveyors of spying technology.

Still Popular

So far, complaints about spyware do not seem to have affected Kazaa's popularity to a significant degree. But for the privacy-conscious, a program called Kazaa Lite provides most of the functionality of Kazaa, including access to the Kazaa file-sharing network -- without the spyware.

And consumers are not completely unconcerned about privacy. As the number of spyware-laden programs has increased, spyware blockers also have become surefire hits. ZoneLabs' ZoneAlarm is a free, consumer-level personal firewall that, among other things, notifies a user when a program is trying to send data over the Internet, then asks for the user's permission, according to ZoneLabs spokesperson Te Smith.

Smith told NewsFactor that the Kazaa-Brilliant Digital incident remains "the poster child for spyware. People still are downloading it. It speaks to the need to educate users. You have to be aware of what you're doing."

Smith said ZoneLabs has more than 20 million users of its free and paid security software.

Another popular spyware blocker is Lavasoft's Ad-Aware, which scans a system for ad-supported software components and removes them. The company offers a free version, plus enhanced tools for a price. The software logged 170,000 downloads at last week.

Blurry Lines

Companies that distribute advertising-support software, or adware, claim that because they garner customers' permission to handle their personal data Latest News about personal data, their software cannot be classed as malicious spyware.

SpywareInfo's Healen acknowledged that users can opt out of some adware. However, he added, "A lot of it could be considered spyware because it logs things like browsing history [and] computing habits and sends it back to the vendor."

Even when usage and license agreements are presented, Healen said, they are often so full of legalese that it is difficult to discern how a company will use a person's information.

Uninformed Users

Although users are concerned about how their private information is handled -- a recent Media Metrix survey found that nearly 70 percent of U.S. consumers are concerned about their privacy online -- the same survey found that just 40 percent of users read privacy statements. In addition, just 30 percent of respondents said they find Web site privacy statements easy to understand.

Clearly, anti-spyware companies -- and users -- have their work cut out for them.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: adware; benny; bigbrother; internet; internetsecurity; kazaa; p2p; privacy; spyware; uninformedconsent; winmx

1 posted on 01/07/2003 1:35:08 PM PST by weegee
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To: weegee
This is why I've been turning all my friends on to WinMX for all their peer-to-peer file-sharing needs. No spyware, no hassle.
2 posted on 01/07/2003 1:42:12 PM PST by American Blood
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To: weegee
My son installed Kazaa on our brand new system -- and slowed it down to a crawl. Of course Kazaa is now gone and the speed has (mostly) returned.
3 posted on 01/07/2003 1:53:08 PM PST by WL-law
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To: weegee
Kazaa is a pain, as are most of these teenage music-sharing programs. One of my kids put it on my computer when I turned my back, and it took me a week to find all the stuff it installed here and there in folders all over the place and in the Registry and remove it. The Kazaa uninstall program hardly removes any of it.

Adaware is a help in removing this stuff, as are Registry First Aid and Cookie Spy. But it's really better to avoid anything that turns your computer into a server and shares your files with potential hackers. I have no confidence that these intrusions can be restricted to your Shared folder.
4 posted on 01/07/2003 1:59:02 PM PST by Cicero
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To: WL-law
I periodically sweep my system for spyware using Lavasoft's shareware program Ad-Aware ( I believe).

It helps keep my performance speed up and surfing untracked.

5 posted on 01/07/2003 2:02:30 PM PST by weegee
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To: weegee
Try Spybot. Spybot is definitely the new king in spyware and adware removal. I have tried it for a while now and it is more comprehensive, thorough, and faster than ad-aware. Ad-aware still has a great following and great guys working to make it number one, but in my opinion Spybot currently holds that honor. It's free too.

6 posted on 01/07/2003 2:20:50 PM PST by BullDog108 ((Kick their @$$ and thake their gas))
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To: weegee
7 posted on 01/07/2003 3:34:39 PM PST by jokar
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To: weegee
Oh Boy! You would NOT believe how many times this week alone I've posted this message...3 times on FreeRpublic on other threads! :>)

How to keep a secure computer (As much as possible)

1. Download and install ZoneAlarm This is, in my opinion, the best FREE Firewall software for the home/small business computer. The FREE version is excellent but they also have a expanded feature pay version HERE

2. Download and Install AdAware. This is the original, and still the best FREE software for removing "Scumware" and other "Malwarez" from your computer. These unwanted, and malicious programs are installed on your computer by very shady advertising agencies and other "firms" that want to track your every move on the internet.

3. Download and install AVG Antivirus. This is an excellent, FREE antivirus system that will protect you while you are surfing and also scans and certifies ALL incoming and outgoing emails.

3a. Download and install the antivirus updates WEEKLY! Old information will not save your computer.

4. Is your computer acting like you have a virus? Just want to feel a bit safer? Go to TREND MICRO for a FREE On-Line virus scan / Cleaning. FREE and is kept totally up-to-date. I would go to this site BEFORE steps 1,2, and 3. Just for a little more safety.

5. Download and install Window Washer. PROTECTS YOUR PRIVACY - wipes away all history of your Internet and PC activities - removes unwanted Internet, e-mail and temporary files (like pictures viewed) - eliminates invasive tracking files, clearing disk space to tune up your hard drive.

Since I've installed the above software on my computer - AND kept them up-to-date - I haven't had any virus infections on my computers!

I have found this one - tested and retested on my system - that works with Internet Explorer and Netscape and AOL and most other browsers! It's not free, but it does have a FREE trial download with all the features so you can test it for yourself. Oh yeah...I almost forgot! click here -=> Window Washer

8 posted on 01/07/2003 6:53:57 PM PST by steplock
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To: steplock
Whooops - Last Paragraph should have been:

After you have all the security software loaded and running, and your computer is virus free... go to This Link for a comprehensive security test on line from ShieldsUp!

These test are attempts to access your computer. They are benign attempts and will NOT HARM your computer. They will simply tell you what security problems you have, if any.

For a fun comparison - Run these tests BEFORE installing the security software! ShieldsUp!

9 posted on 01/07/2003 7:02:56 PM PST by steplock
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To: weegee
10 posted on 01/07/2003 9:37:13 PM PST by quietolong
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To: steplock
Ad aware is no longer supporting their product. Spybots or spynuker are the two good programs.
I ran ad aware then ran spynuker and ad aware did not catch all the spyware I had accumulated.
11 posted on 01/07/2003 10:32:51 PM PST by jokar
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To: weegee
Oh wah! The big bad capitalists are trying to make money from punks who steal music and videos. The punks should be able to steal music and video for free without any strings attached. Double wah!

It's always funny to watch people whine about the demerits of software they don't pay for. BUY software. If it doesn't work as advertised, get a refund and/or sue the bastards. Otherwise, shut up and stop whining! The entire geek faction of the internet is infested with stupid liberals and anti-capitalists. As the CTO of a for profit corporation, I find this quite annoying.
12 posted on 01/08/2003 1:09:36 AM PST by thedugal
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To: thedugal
Oh wah! The big bad capitalists are trying to make money from punks who steal music and videos. The punks should be able to steal music and video for free without any strings attached. Double wah!

The problem is that the entertainment cartel has been using their considerable political clout to abuse their customers and their customers no longer see the point in continuing to give them money when the result will be more abuse.

The US Constitution stipulates that, in order to facilitate the spread of ideas and arts, creators of intellectual property are given a limited monopoly to receive restitution for their creation.

The problem is that one That's kind of vague. And when Disney, the MPAA and the RIAA can buy Senators and Congressmen to keep extending their government provided monopoly so that the "limited" idea of the constitution is essentially meaningless, many feel that the rights of these companies to continue to milk their customers over and over again for the same product are no longer valid.

If an author writes a book, his intellectual property is safe as long as he never publishes it. And a songwriter need not worry about his IP being stolen if he never sings the song in public. But that would rather restrict the spread of ideas and entertainment. Thus the government provided copyright monopoly.

If publishers and record companies are having trouble making money with their same tired old sales techniques, I feel for them. But the problem is less with the people that are beginning to ignore their bleating than it is with the idiots that feel that they have a right to continue making money doing the same old thing. I'm sure buggy whip makers were irritated when the automobile started selling, but they didn't have a staff of lawyers or the wherewithal to buy the senator from South Carolina. If they had, you'd probably have paid for a brand new buggy whip along with the undercoating and shipping fee on your new Ford, Chevy or Toyota.

Times change. The publishers and producers need to change their sales techniques to keep up instead of whining and litigating. To put this into perspective, consider this:

The companies that make up the MPAA and RIAA made more money in profits than the US spent on the FBI and CIA combined last year. Why do they need the taxpayers of the US to continue to support courts and police to prosecute people that violate their copyright? Why not invest some of those profits in developing a better way of distributing their products that is less likely to be subject to violations? Shouldn't their shareholders demand that they do so? Isn't that the smart long-term solution?

Isn't streching the Constitution all out of shape in order to benefit a few people one of the things that a good conservative is supposed to oppose?

I guess it's easier to keep buying political clout and file lawsuits than it is to fix their business model. Ok, let 'em go for it. But don't expect very many people to feel sorry for them when they fail.

13 posted on 01/08/2003 1:49:09 AM PST by Knitebane
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To: weegee
It's not the privacy issues of spyware that pisses me, it the quality of the spyware software. This is so buggy that it causes frequent system crashes and conflicts. The only real way I managed to get rid of it all from my pc was to do some delicate surgery on the registry, which is quite risky.

I am a convert to Kazalite, which has performed very well so far.

In response to the guy who blames us for being thieves, well that is probably true and in cases of popular music its a fair call, we perhaps should be buying it. However, the record companies hold the right to a lot of titles, but never actually re-release some of the more obscure stuff for which there is insufficient market. Being cursed with rather ecentric music tastes as I am, file sharing software is the only way I am able to indulge my musical pecadillos. The music I want is simply unavailable through more conventional channels.
14 posted on 01/08/2003 5:20:45 AM PST by Yaron
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To: jokar
AdAware always had a problem with letting you know about updates...until now. I just found the latest versions at: LavaSoft
Lavasoft Downloads

Ad-aware winner of the PC World's 20th World Class Awards 2002!

Also Download ((NEW))Freeware add-on for Ad-aware and Ad-watch, keeps your referencefile up to date.

Makes sure you always have the most recent reference file installed.
It automatizes the complete update procedure, including installation.It is very simple to use, but you find a step by step example on the FAQ-page.
If no referencefile can be located, the most recent file will always be downloaded and installed.

'Refupdate 2.01' installs in a seperate folder than AdAware, so to check for updates, you run RefUpdate seperately.
15 posted on 01/08/2003 8:29:27 AM PST by steplock
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Excellent essay by Janis Ian on downloading, RIAA, and NARAS: The Internet Debacle - An Alternative View from And Follow up.
16 posted on 01/08/2003 8:42:14 AM PST by concentric circles
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To: thedugal
Oh wah! The big bad capitalists are trying to make money from punks who steal music and videos. The punks should be able to steal music and video for free without any strings attached. Double wah!

If spyware and unauthorized software activity were problems associated only with pirating music, I'd not feel to upset about it. But, this is not the case. Even "legit" software from "legit" companies such as McAfee, Intuit, and others has a problem staying off of the internet. I pitched McAfee Antivirus and firewall due to its insistance on accessing the net every time I got connected (and this even with the automatic update feature turned OFF). Likewise, Intuit's Quicken was full of "features" that wanted to access the net without my permission. And who can forget the C_Dilla fiasco with TurboTax last year. I have caught other programs as well, using firewall software.

And we can't forget the neat little cookies that all kinds of web sites attach to our computers to track our usage. Or the more sophisticated spyware that gets installed with some "free" search console or other neat little applet that we might find on the web. Or the popup ads that annoy some of us.

I've made my computer almost bulletproof to all of these annoyances, but I'm sure that new ones will take the place of the ones rendered ineffective.

17 posted on 01/10/2004 12:54:18 PM PST by meyer
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