Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

An interview with Ad-Aware's Nicholas Stark

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the combatting-annoyance dept.

Privacy 199

Andrew Leonard writes: "In the wake of the Ad-Aware/RadLight spyware vs. anti-spyware showdown, Salon has an interview with Ad-Aware's Nicholas Stark, who explains in no uncertain terms Lavasoft's determination to match every move by the spyware developers."

cancel ×

199 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Subject (-1, Troll)

n3m6 (101260) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423899)

Comment

God is GWBs running mate in 2004 (-1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424149)

New York Times [nytimes.com] :

"President Bush's penchant for stark religious terminology has waned in the international arena now that he has lost his innocence in the Middle East. He has yet to brand the Israelis, the Palestinians or, for that matter, the Saudis "evildoers." But on the domestic front he has joined Mr. Ashcroft in pumping up the volume of his preening sanctimony, referring to the Almighty so frequently that He is becoming his de facto running mate for 2004."

Frist Psot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3423900)

I fucked your mother. Right in the ass. Ha ha.

Once again, you lose.

Grad 2002!!!! (-1)

Eso (205333) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423902)

Class of 2002! Wooo!
Let's hear it for Prince Rupert!!!!!!!

Yeah...Prince Rupert (-1)

1234567890zxcvbnm (548451) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424017)

What a fucking shithole.

Software licenses (2, Interesting)

vespazzari (141683) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423905)

I think that it is almost impossible to read much less understand the license agreements that are bound to almost all software. I would be vey interested to see a licensing agreement go to court... The way I understand it both parties of a legally binding contract must understand the contract in order for it to be valid, sooo it would be my guess that most of these agreements/contracts would be invalid due to the fact that most people are not lawers and would not be able to understand the agreement even if they did read it.

Re:Software licenses (3, Interesting)

cdf12345 (412812) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423926)

In order for a contract to be valid there must be:

1.) a valid offer
a. must be serious
b. must be specific

2.) A valid acceptence
3.) exchange of consideration

As far as I'm concerned, not telling someone that the contract allows them to delete information on your computer, that's not very specific.

As for taking this to court, a remedy would probably be for damages or recission(null) of the contract.

all we need now is someone pissed enough to take this damn company to court.

Re:Software licenses (2, Funny)

fatphil (181876) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424040)

Following up to a post with the sig:
"Alchohol, cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems" -Homer Simpson

You wrote:
"all we need now is someone pissed enough to take this damn company to court."

Which is just wonderful in English! (i.e. English English)

It's certainly true, it would be very interesting for this to be brought to a black/white crux point.

FP.

Re:Software licenses (1)

Xuff (99173) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424120)

IIRC, the click-thru licence does tell you that it's going to delete information on your computer, and it is specific about what it will remove. Just because people blindly click "Next" and don't read isn't the company's fault, although they are taking advantage of it.

I don't like it any more than you do, but it's worth pointing out.

Re:Software licenses (5, Insightful)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423948)

Dude, while I agree in general with you, who says this needs to go to court? Think of it this way...

Someone writes a "contract" that says if you happen to walk across a particular stretch of sidewalk, not only will they keep that sidewalk clean for you, but you agree to give them 50% of your salary for the next year. Then they post a copy of it well off the sidewalk, where it isn't easily read (not without binoculars). So, curious, you walk across that sidewalk up closer to it, so you can read the "sign"... is there any reasonable person that would contend you agreed to this contract?

If the dumbass that pulled the stunt took you to court for breach of contract, would the judge even hear it, or would he toss it out, only after chastising the plaintiff's lawyer?

How is a EULA any different?

Re:Software licenses (1)

cdf12345 (412812) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423954)

there is a difference between trying to rip someone off in a contract, and damaging property in a contract, I think a judge would hear the case.

Re:Software licenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424001)

The difference is that one has to do with something primitive that judges understand, and the other with that magical enigma known as the in-ter-nit.

Re:Software licenses (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424102)

Bingo! Get this gentleman a qewpie doll, we have a winner!

Re:Software licenses (0)

I.T.R.A.R.K. (533627) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424002)

"...not only will they keep that sidewalk clean for you, but you agree to give them 50% of your salary for the next year."

"...is there any reasonable person that would contend you agreed to this contract?

No, but hundreds of thousands of people are doing it everyday. It's called paying taxes. ;p~

Re:Software licenses (1, Offtopic)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424098)

Touche. No wonder you have such low karma. You tell the truth too often.

Re:Software licenses (0)

I.T.R.A.R.K. (533627) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424270)

You think this account is bad? My other count is sitting at -110 right now. ;p~

IMPORTANT (-1, Offtopic)

hettb (569863) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423907)

I am sorry but I have to urge you to commit suicide.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Re:IMPORTANT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424169)

dammit, i thought you were klerk for a second
you had my hopes up!

Annonncement (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3423908)

On the 1st January 2003. KDE 3.11 Will be realsesed. Linux users world wide will love the desktop that will have finally caught up to windows 3.11.

In 2005 look out for KDE 95
2008 KDE 98
2010 KDE 2000
2011 KDE XP
2025 KDE .net

Radsoft (2, Informative)

CmdrTaco (editor) (564483) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423912)

From the article:

I do not believe that it is legal to bind the usage of their software to the removal of an unrelated product.

But how is it an unrelated product? Ad-Aware goes out and specifically prevents programs like those put out by Radsoft from working properly. While I agree it isn't right that Ad-Aware is removed from the user's program without due warning, it is far from unrelated.

Re:Radsoft (3, Insightful)

Disevidence (576586) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423931)

Doesn't Ad-Aware remove the SaveNow bundled with the software? This wouldn't specifically stop Radlight from working, or even intefere with its use. Its affecting the spyware bundled, so removing Ad-Aware without the users express intent is illegal.

Re:Radsoft (5, Informative)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424058)



But how is it an unrelated product? Ad-Aware goes out and specifically prevents programs like those put out by Radsoft from working properly. While I agree it isn't right that Ad-Aware is removed from the user's program without due warning, it is far from unrelated.


Its pretty simple. Radsoft's package can function perfectly well with Ad-Aware also installed. They have nothing directly to do with each other.


Granted, the politics and business of the two clash. I could understand that Radsoft feels threatned by Ad-aware. And it wouldn't be suprising if they took measures to protect their revenue. However, I would expect them to take steps to ensure all installed components remain installed for their application to function.


Of course, Radsoft has done a great job at displaying their attitude towards their users. Not only does their revenue apparently depend on the questionable (and apparently unappreciated by users) practice of spy-ware, but they take the same attitude to underhandedly remove software with which they have a political axe to grind.


One final point. Ad-Aware is considerably different in intent and attitude than any of the software it targets. First, the Ad-Aware user actively selects what components (including applications, libraries, registry entries, and cookies) to remove. Secondly, it is widely supported as it provides even fairly non-technical users the ability to discover hidden software installed on their systems and remove it despite the great lengths that software goes to hide and resist being removed.


If Radsoft and their clients, as well as the apparently growing number of like-minded business and applications developers, dislike the power provided by Ad-Aware then they should seriously re-examine their business plan. There is considerable resistance towards their methods. And simply attempting to remove Ad-Aware does little more than reveal their contempt for their user base.

Re:Radsoft (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424113)

Radsoft's package can function perfectly well with Ad-Aware also installed.

I completely agree with this. But that is not the issue.

They [Ad-Aware and Radsoft] have nothing directly to do with each other.

This is the point I don't understand. How you can you say that? Radsoft actively chose to bundle in a piece of spyware, the kind which Ad-Aware's sole purpose is to destroy. So how are the two unrelated? This has less to do with functionality and more to do with the politics of software distribution.

Essentially, this all boils down to "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" or more appropriately, "The enemy of my friend is my enemy." I may disagree with the method in which the software us removed, but I can certainly understand the justification.

Re:Radsoft (1)

Disevidence (576586) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424152)

This is the point I don't understand. How you can you say that? Radsoft actively chose to bundle in a piece of spyware, the kind which Ad-Aware's sole purpose is to destroy. So how are the two unrelated? This has less to do with functionality and more to do with the politics of software distribution.

They're not unrelated per se, but rather they shouldn't directly intefere with each other. Radlight can run without the spyware, Ad-Aware has a perfect legal right running on the computer, regardless of whatever else you install.

This has less to do with functionality and more to do with the politics of software distribution.

But one company tells you what they are doing, what exactly the program does, and you install it on your own accord. The other company hides behing a vague EULA, illegal modifies the users computers and uninstalls software, and oringinally didn't even tell of the changes! Everyone likes accountability in politics. Its the exact same here. They are being under-handed and sneaky, and there is no justification, as stated, its illegal. Just because you dislike what another company produces, it doesn't give you the right to break the law to get back at them.

license (illegal?) (5, Insightful)

cdf12345 (412812) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423915)

"You are not allowed to use any third party program (e.g. Ad-Aware) to uninstall applications bundled with RadLight."

As far as I know a license statement should only apply to when one is using software, I think legally a court would uphold that a license cannot tell someone what hardware or other software they can or cannot use.

The interesting thing with this is that the are forcing users to comply with a license which is probably not even legal.

As for uninstalling software without any other warning, wouldn't this be on the same level as a destructive virus? I sure as hell wouldn't pout my name on a virus.

Also it never states that the software will be removed. It says you cannot use other applications to uninstall their spyware. So you can have anti-spyware installed on your computer without breaking this (probably illegal) license.

I would think the company is liable for criminal damage to property much like a virus writer would be.

Re:license (illegal?) (0)

hettb (569863) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423920)

You are wrong.

What about aborted installations? (2, Interesting)

robolemon (575275) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423938)

Another question to consider is whether the RadLight installation program removes Ad-Aware if you cancel the installation before it is completed. I'm not sure about the specifics, but I don't think a license counts if you never fully install the software onto your computer.

I'm pretty sure we can assume that aborting the installation does not restore Ad-Aware. To me, this seems like even more compelling evidence that RadLight's activities are illegal.

Re:license (illegal?) (2, Informative)

Disevidence (576586) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423943)

I believe in the latest release, the removal of ad-aware is explained (albeit in legalese) in the EULA. While the legality is extremely questionable, they do actually tell you vaguely.

Re:license (illegal?) (3, Insightful)

56ker (566853) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424064)

"I think legally a court would uphold that a license cannot tell someone what hardware or other software they can or cannot use" - I don't think it would! What law are you basing this on? After all the person has clicked a button saying that they agree to the terms!
"So you can have anti-spyware installed on your computer without breaking this (probably illegal) license." - yes but it'll uninstall Ad-aware without telling you - that's what this whole story was about!

Re:license (illegal?) (2)

Technician (215283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424161)

As for uninstalling software without any other warning, wouldn't this be on the same level as a destructive virus?
I think it should be called a Trojan program and properly included in the signature files of McAffee, V-Shield, Network Associates, Fprotect, etc.

well I'm not surprised... (0, Troll)

56ker (566853) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423916)

that some company decided to bring out a program that removed Ad-aware. That's what he's been doing to them - so why the big ho-ha when he gets a bit of his own medicine?

Re:well I'm not surprised... (5, Insightful)

gnovos (447128) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423929)

That's what he's been doing to them - so why the big ho-ha when he gets a bit of his own medicine?

Simple, because that is what is his users ASK of him. Most people download spyware don't know that it's there. When was the last time you intentionally installed Cydoor? When was the last time your version of p2p software said in big letters "This software will install spyware now Yes/No"?

Now if he packaged ad-aware inside of kazaalite and didn't tell anyone what he was doing, THEN he'd be getting a taste of his own medicine. This, however, is completely different.

Pot. Kettle. Black. (5, Interesting)

TrinSF (183901) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423977)

Well, except that's *not* what Ad-Aware and similar products do. They *don't* make a clear connection between uninstalling 'spyware' and decreasing functionality of a program.

I've worked personally on both sides of this fence, with one of the companies named in the interview. I can't tell you how many times I had email exchanges with users that ran like this:

USER: Suddenly my version of [Product] won't work! I get a message it's missing [filename]; what happened?

RESPONSE: You may have installed a program that "removes spyware" that has removed that program element. Programs like that are designed to remove advertising software from your computer. You're welcome to do that, but if you don't want to see ads, the free version of [Product] is not for you. You should try [Pay Version of Product] or some other product that is not ad sponsored.

USER: But I don't understand! The program said it would get rid of evil viruses and bad programs! It didn't say it would remove parts of the programs I use. Why doesn't it say your programs might not work any more?

RESPONSE: We suggest writing to the support address of the "spyware removal" program with your concern. Maybe they will change their documentation to make that more clear.

I myself was *personally* responsible for making sure that software that included ad components had clear, readable EULAs. The software had to all but slap the user in the face with the information -- it had a first line that said, in all caps, that the program was AD SUPPORTED and would DISPLAY ADS. It urged, in all caps, that users *read* before they agreed. I fought with developers who wanted to make the EULA less visible, to ensure that it couldn't be dragged off the desktop or otherwise avoided.

The bottom line is that it didn't matter. I could explain to a user in simple plain language what was going on, and the user would still *ignore* the whole text.

I've become increasingly frustrated by the topic of late. From what I can tell, there are people who feel justified in robbing others of income by repackaging software to remove advertising components. For almost all advertising supported software I'm aware of, an ad-free version is offered for a cost. If you don't want ads, or don't want "spyware", pay for the software. It's that simple. But to actively take income from people simply because you don't approve of their business model is heinous.

Actually, now that I think about it, this is not the first instance of this sort of activity. I remember a developer with a popular product which was ad-supported that used to check for ad-removal programs and bring up a popup window that said something like:

"[Anti-adware program] has been found on your system. It may remove files that this software needs. Do you want to remove [Anti-adware program]?"

A pretty nice bit of turnaround, I always thought.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (4, Funny)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423993)

"But to actively take income from people simply because you don't approve of their business model is heinous."

You're right, I'll write my state representatves this instant, and insist that they repeal fines for drug dealers. Throw them in jail, yes, but taking money because I don't approve of their business model is truly heinous.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (2, Insightful)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424019)

You and your product may have been very clear on the ad/spyware issue, but I'm absolutely sure I have never been asked by an installer if it was ok to replace my winsock.dll by something that resolves .cool and .new tlds etc. Or to redirect all my http traffic through some hit counter. Yet this happens when installing some of these "freeware" tools.

The problem is that these companies are not upfront about it. Morpheus has an anti-spyware logo on it's site for chrissakes. Only when everybody comes bitching to them, they change their EULA's and say, hey, we told you all along, and you agreed, so what are you complaining about?

"[Anti-adware program] has been found on your system. It may remove files that this software needs. Do you want to remove [Anti-adware program]?"

If it gave a warning like this, fine, I'd cancel and that would be it. If it gives you a choice (like ad-aware does), it's ok, otherwise it's not.

Not quite right (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424076)

First a snippet from teh Salon Article: "It isn't a matter of what Lavasoft will or will not approve of. If our users find the activity unacceptable, then we will meet their needs. In the end, it is the public that will decide what is appropriate. So to this end we have implemented features that will allow the user to choose their own level of comfort. They have the choice to exclude and/or ignore any component targeted by Ad-Aware at their discretion. And when removing the components found, we have supplied them with a backup feature that will restore anything removed by Ad-Aware should they choose to."

So let me repeat : "if the USER find the activity unacceptable then we will meet their need". the point beeing the USER.

Secondly do you know how ad-aware function ? It let you choose what to remove. IF you click blindly to remove everything then it is your problem not AD-aware fault. Like i always says : RTFM. If you use low level system removing component then either know what you do or shut up.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (3, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424085)



RESPONSE: You may have installed a program that "removes spyware" that has removed that program element. Programs like that are designed to remove advertising software from your computer. You're welcome to do that, but if you don't want to see ads, the free version of [Product] is not for you. You should try [Pay Version of Product] or some other product that is not ad sponsored.


USER: But I don't understand! The program said it would get rid of evil viruses and bad programs! It didn't say it would remove parts of the programs I use. Why doesn't it say your programs might not work any more?


The confused user is your problem. Ad-Aware is, in fact, doing exactly what it advertises: removing spyware. Your application does more than it advertises - it installs spyware that the user is apparently unaware of. How do we know this? Because they actively removed components they had no idea was on their system much less that they were installed by your product.


And please. Who really reads the EULA? You KNOW the end user is not going to read it no matter how plainly you write it and how much verbage you use to explain "ad supported" software.


So how do you educate your user? Make it an active part of the installation process.


The user downloads the WidgetMeister app to view their favorite widgets. During the install of the app, it notifies the user that WidgetMeister is ad supported software and is sponsored by several software packages. List the packages. Explain their use. Give the user a chance to not install specific components, or abort completely.


Of course - I suspect that this would also effectively cut deeply in to WidgetMeister's user base as many users will decide not to use it. And that's the crux of the problem.


This is not about ad-suported software. It is not about confused users. It is about the subterfuge of the spy-ware industry and the battle for control between end users and developers for the user's system.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (2)

Spoing (152917) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424117)

  1. So how do you educate your user? Make it an active part of the installation process.

    The user downloads the WidgetMeister app to view their favorite widgets. During the install of the app, it notifies the user that WidgetMeister is ad supported software and is sponsored by several software packages. List the packages. Explain their use. Give the user a chance to not install specific components, or abort completely.

Agreed. Specifically, show all parts that will be installed and allow the user to uncheck any of them. Briefly describe each part if highlighted.

Just like any other program, if the user unchecks a part that is "necessary", warn them about what will/will not work and why. If there's an ad-free version, this is the time to promote it or offer the option to upgrade on the spot.

Re:Pot. Kettle. Black. (1)

Slashamatic (553801) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424133)

A while back, I installed a version of Morpheus on my system. It presented ads which I tolerated because I had freeware. Then they started to do pop-ups, and it got more annoying.

Eventually, they screwed up their ad Javascript to the point where IEW kept crashing. At tha6t point, I figured they had lost their 'right' to do things on my machine.

I started with the hosts file fix and then eventually, after the Kazaa debacle I have no guilt about nobbling Cydoor and blocking all ads.

Ad supported software is one thing, but when it starts causing s/w problems then, sorry, I will use the cracked version only.

Re:well I'm not surprised... (1)

Bitchard (37180) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423956)

I can't believe that people think that this is a taste of Ad-Aware's own medicine - Spyware is installed completely surreptitiously and without the user's consent, whereas Ad-Aware has been purposefully installed in order to remove any invasions of privacy.

It's about as far from medicine as I can imagine. Unless it involved leeches.

It's like buying a game that automatically searched for any other game on your computer, and then removed them without asking. Kinda. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Steathily remove all opposition to leave the path clear for your own product.

Warning! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3423919)

Gnome 2.0 will contain spyware! This is to help pay for all this FREE software. Sorry, but you can't even get the linux kerenl for free now, its got spyware COMPILED in to the kernel. And it would take 30 days and over 2 million lines of code to be removed to get it out.

And adware is for windoze only so fuck you linux lusers, your BEING SPYED ON! DONT USE Kernels over 2.4.20 as these contain the spyware!

$10 U.S. Capital to the person that proves this (-1)

NRAdude (166969) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424067)


I will give anyone $10 U.S. Capital to the person that proves the Linux kernel contains spyware of any kind, when the spyware code was "implemented" in the Linux kernel, and what Linux kernels are indeed "safe" to use.

Also, I will give anyone $150,000,000 U.S. Capital to the person that shows me the federal law stating I must pay an income tax to the IRS.

I will be paying the $10 via PayPal.

Time is ticking, find the line of code in the Linux kernel which arbitrarily sends data to the rest of the world.

Time is ticking, look through the old crusty United States federal laws for which states I must pay an income tax to the IRS.

PS: I am obviously more confident I am not obligated to pay an income tax than whether or not the Linux kernel contains spyware. My PayPal account has been transfered funds and I await someone's reply for the possible $10 reward.

mhy fsdfudn (-1)

Drunken Coward (574991) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423922)

yes folkg, i have to abnount he retiurm pof tje fdrinlem cpward/ after a weel ;pmg joatpsus o jave retirmed

as for the artielcele i have to say that i menever aproved of the secrtretive menthod in which the soiptware was reonmeoved by rasdsoft, and i wopukd kuiken it to afastd foodp restaurent popisoning a compteritior with cyuanide.

Re:mhy fsdfudn (-1, Redundant)

Ralph Malph Alpha (551824) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424033)

Ha, you again.

Well, seeing that you are drunk, I will post my fortylove proclamation [slashdot.org] in your honor. Got any drunken sisterz?

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=31395&cid=33 78 687

Idle Thought... (1)

NickRob (575331) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423927)

With clickthrough rates in the absolute toilet, how much money is AdAware and popup blockers really costing those that get so upset by them?

Not enough.

words to live by (3, Interesting)

CmdrTaco (editor) (564483) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423941)

When asked if he had a specific plan to recommend to developers of spyware programs, Nicholas Stark of Lavasoft said
A specific plan? No. However we do have some pertinent advice. Lavasoft began as nothing more than a dream. With hard work and a specific plan for the future, we have been able to achieve the success we now enjoy. We feel that the ad-sponsored model is nothing more than a quick fix. What we would say is that developers need to find a community willing to support their efforts and help them to grow in their art and to learn from experience.
Sounds like someone the open source community could really rally behind.

Except for those of us who like shelter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3423959)

But money is not the primary goal and has never been; it's mainly used to pay the server and bandwidth costs.

So, basically he's saying that if companies who distribute spyware give up their tactics and follow Ad-Aware's model, they can make enough money to cover bandwidth and server costs. Then all they need to do is have another job which actually pays. Oh yeah, great way to hook new developers into open source or even just to stop using spyware. Ad-Aware may have community "support" but unless the community supports them enough to make a decent living Ad-Aware sure isn't showing anyone much of an alternative.

Re:Except for those of us who like shelter (1)

Disevidence (576586) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423984)

Oh yeah, great way to hook new developers into open source or even just to stop using spyware.

When developing for "Open Source", your designing and programming on the assumption that your part of a community, helping a community, and not getting paid for it. Most spyware-bundled software are from private companies trying to discreetly make money of "free" software. People will do open source because its something they believe in and can help create. Not have an open source project just so they can spyware it and make money at a later date.

Re:Except for those of us who like shelter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424084)

Umm, you're confusing "open source" with "free software" - see the review of "Revolution OS" [slashdot.org] for an explanation. The people are putting spyware into their software install package because it will make them money. I think their desire to make money is reasonable considering some of these people have invested millions of dollars into their software companies and I think their programmers should only have to have one programming job at a time. The guy from Ad-Aware said With hard work and a specific plan for the future, we have been able to achieve the success we now enjoy. We feel that the ad-sponsored model is nothing more than a quick fix. What we would say is that developers need to find a community willing to support their efforts and help them to grow in their art and to learn from experience. Ad-Aware may be successful as an unprofitable entity but so far their business model is not one that any sane businessman would follow. I'm writing these replies because I would like to release my source when I release my application but I'd also like to make money from my application which has taken up most of the last two years of my life. So I'm particularly aware of the fact that this guy's advice is completely worthless to anyone who wants to make a living off of their open source software (would you prefer I just not open source it?) and I was a bit offended by the fact that he stated his worthless advice in a somewhat arrogant fashion.

Leson to Learn (2)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424122)



Ad-Aware may be successful as an unprofitable entity but so far their business model is not one that any sane businessman would follow.

...

So I'm particularly aware of the fact that this guy's advice is completely worthless to anyone who wants to make a living off of their open source software (would you prefer I just not open source it?) and I was a bit offended by the fact that he stated his worthless advice in a somewhat arrogant fashion.


I completely disagree. Jasc Software [jasc.com] is a great example of a company who started small with Paintshop. It was a great software package (often called a "poor man's Photoshop") with a strong following. Photoshop was offered as uncrippled shareware without any spy-ware. And even as its author estimated registration as low as 1 in 5 downloads, it soon grew and took over the author's professional life. And as any Quake player knows, id Software [idsoftware.com] has a simular story. And an even more rabid fan base (Remarkably, Quake is still played today).


To be sure, these success stories are dwarfed by the number of shareware and commercial operations who fail in the software business. But then, that's business. Most fail in any industry. Its a tough game.


If a small software developer hopes to survive it, they must have a community. It might be within an Open Source community. It might be created from fans of their commercial offerings. But there must be a support base somewhere.


Lavasoft and Ad-Aware have proven one lesson to any developers willing to pay attention. End users do not like the current methods used by spy-ware. As education spreads, more and more users will take efforts to disable this software. And that is a dire message to anyone who's business model depends on it.

Re:words to live by (2)

56ker (566853) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423976)

Yes but most people who use open-source software are smart enough not to install spyware. If it was truly open-source the source would be available.

Re:words to live by (1)

kubrick (27291) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424071)

What we would say is that developers need to find a community willing to support their efforts and help them to grow in their art and to learn from experience.

But that's what the spyware authors were trying to do! Of course in their case, it was the advertising community. :)

Economic darwinism -- these guys thought they'd found the quickest way to "mo' money", but now they find that the market won't tolerate it. People on that moral level will try other objectionable stuff until they find something that doesn't make their customers feel like they're being shafted all *that* hard, and then they'll do their best to exploit that weakness. Grim, but that's "the way life is".

having read the article.. (2)

56ker (566853) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423945)

I'm still curious as to how he's going to change Ad-Aware to prevent it being uninstalled by this other program. Does anybody know?

Re:having read the article.. (1)

cdf12345 (412812) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423950)

find a way to let ad-aware run in the background and alert the user if another program attempts to access its files...

Re:having read the article.. (2)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423963)

I'd simply have a daemon sitting there, waiting for a user to attempt to run such a program... when the user doubleclicks hiddenspyware.exe, have my daemon block it, and inform the user that this exe woulc attempt to remove the daemon they intentionally installed.

The trick of it, is to see it before it can run, it has no power then. If you let it run, I'm pretty sure everything in windows can elevate itself to the equivalent of root without trouble, and kill any process it doesn't like, you have to intercept it before it can do this. After that, it's up to the user and your daemon whether you want to attempt to sandbox the thing or not, and try to salvage some of it.

Re:having read the article.. (2, Interesting)

ewen (218843) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424014)

I'm still curious as to how he's going to change Ad-Aware to prevent it being uninstalled by this other program. Does anybody know?

This calls to mind the old story of Robin Hood and Friar Tuck [csd.uwo.ca] . Essentially instead of having one program that can be killed off/removed, you have two programs each keeping an eye on the other, and starting/reinstalling the other as required.

As someone commented in the last thread on this topic, this all rather reminds me of Core Wars, played out at large. We just need a better way of keeping score...

Ewen

Re:having read the article.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424111)

There is no need for such a scheme, and it's really not a reliable way of doing it. If the OS allows a program to hook into file_read, file_execute or file_delete, ie what anti-virus applications probably do already, then you can block all access to unwanted programs or behaviour. Even if the OS lacks fundamental security levels, you can probably hack into the OS somehow, ie by replacing some DLLs in Windows 98.

AVG, an free antivirus program I use in Windows 98SE prevents me all access to infected files, so I guess it's not such a hard nut to solve. The problem is to lock down so that the other programs can't turn off YOUR mechanism somehow when the OS is basically insecure..

Re:having read the article.. (-1)

AnonymousCowheard (239159) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424083)

The best way for Ad-ware to not be detected by an anti-spyware vigilante program is to observe the phylosophy of the wandering Jew. For those of you who don't understand, the anti-spyware programs are indeed looking for Ad-ware. So, who says Ad-ware can't be installed by the user under a different name and perhaps its executable and data files could use some sort of binary modification, chosen during Ad-ware's install-time, to not be detectable.

Ok, ok... Some of you still don't understand. Lets say the anti Ad-ware programs are looking for adware.exe on a hardware and for ad-ware related information in the MSWindows registry. For ad-ware to circumvent detection, it must allow the user to specify different different MSWindows registry labels and then the files on the harddrive must be slightly modified to have different file lengths and overlooked filenames from what the ant ad-ware programs expect to find.

Take, for example, the sysadmin tool SATAN. A cracker with a unix shell account could use SATAN to detect flaws in a particular computer's security. So, the cracker uploads SATAN into onto a fileshare within execute access of a shell account, and then renaming SATAN to ANGEL. Get my drift?

Re:having read the article.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424109)

The latest ad-aware version add's an extra space into the directory name of ad-aware, this seems to break the script of the spyware that tries to remove it.

Re:having read the article.. (1)

gibodean (224873) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424116)

I'm still curious as to how he's going to change Ad-Aware to prevent it being uninstalled by this other program. Does anybody know?

There's a program provided with the $15 version which is like a virus monitor, but it monitors for spyware. It stops the spyware from running, or installing itself. Lavasoft just needs to add detection for this new bit of spyware.

Re:having read the article.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424207)

There are quite a few ways - from passive ones making the detection very problematic (remeber self-mutating virii when there were real virus writers and not only silly worm bozos?) to active monitoring for accessing their files in a way the virus scanners do. BTW, anyone noticed the radlight admin's nick "davenger". Guess what? - dark avenger was a bulgarian virus writer who created a quite clever mutation engine.

The real name of RadScorpion seems to be Igor Janos. Any slovak student here knowing Igor Janos? :-)

I am posting anonymously as I am a Slovak, probably live in the same town as he does and he can track me based on my user info - I don't quite want to get his attention :-)

spyware as sources of revenue (2, Interesting)

jred (111898) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423946)

In the article, they ask about removal of spyware removing revenue for the producers of the free software. I didn't think the ad-aware guy answered that very well. I would have pointed out that ultimately, the customer (user of free software) decides what it's worth to use their software. Most will look at ads. Heck, most will tolerate pop-ups. What they tolerate is anti-ad-aware software. I never heard of RadLight until this came up. Free publicity, yes, but you can be sure no one that I know ever uses any of their products. There's a line & they crossed it. Not all free publicity is good, regardless of what they say.

How do you make money? (5, Funny)

mgblst (80109) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423960)

We do offer an enhanced version of Ad-Aware called Ad-Aware Plus, [which costs $15]. But money is not the primary goal and has never been; it's mainly used to pay the server and bandwidth costs. We all have "regular" jobs or are students, and do this in our spare time (although it uses up a lot).

Perhaps if they included some sort of advertising program with ad-aware, they could make some real money!

Re:How do you make money? (1)

kubrick (27291) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424074)

Perhaps if they included some sort of advertising program with ad-aware, they could make some real money!

But then the first time the program was run it would uninstall itself. Where's the benefit in that? :)

Calling all programmers ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3423964)

I'd LOVE to see some puckish programmer bury a phrase at the very bottom of a click-through license to the effect of: "User agrees to sell nude pictures of themselves on ebay and donate the procedes to RJ Reynolds and/or the Church of Scientology." Might demonstrate the idiocy of click-throughs and highlight their dubious legal status. At worst, it'd provide a few yuks.

Re:Calling all programmers ... (3, Funny)

Technician (215283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424172)

pictures of themselves on ebay and donate the procedes...
With my geek physique, they shouldn't hold their breath waiting for the funds.

I feel bad for the spyware creators... (2, Funny)

Roarkk (303058) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423967)

As I believe that some of the "spyware" are just regular legal programs I really feel for their authors to see how their program is being uninstalled," RadScorpion wrote. "I WANTED ADAWARE TO SEE IT TOO and to revalue their pose to their 'enemies.'

No, I feel really bad. If it weren't for AdAware, I, too, could have received an extra $500 from (Insert online casino of choice).

*$500 dollar offer only valid after betting $50,000 or more and receipt of firstborn child. Other restrictions may apply

Just Boycott (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423974)

What ever the legal aspects are, there is a much simpler way to get rid of spyware - don't download the programs. boycott KaZaA and everything else that includes spyware until they stop. People these days are just not taking their right to boycott, its the same with DVDs, CDs, and MS Windows, all these things are trying to do stuff we don't want, but if everyone stops buying them, they will have no choice but to give the customers what they want.

Oh and screw the EULAs, if I want to remove spyware from something on _my_ hard-drive then what are they going to do about it?

Re:Just Boycott (-1)

Yr0 (224662) | more than 12 years ago | (#3423999)

BuT WHeRe WUld 1 G3t /\/\y 31337 0-D4Y Mp3z?
4nD My watersports Pr0n?
Im n0t PaYnig D000D!

Re:Just Boycott (1)

Thenomain (537937) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424099)

What ever the legal aspects are, there is a much simpler way to get rid of spyware - don't download the programs.

Until I started reading computer news sites more regularly, I didn't even know that these things were installing "spyware" on my machine. I just clicked-through on those EULAs, like 98% of everyone. The "just don't do that" argument needs to be prefaced with "you're doing that", which is what programs like AdAware help bring to light. I commend Salon for bringing it to the attention of less tech-hardened people. Even if anti-anti-spyware programs become more popular, the mentality behind AdAware has a better chance of reaching more people.

Re:Just Boycott (1)

set (19875) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424244)

You're preaching to the choir here. The vast majority of people actually affected by this are oblivious. I showed the kazaa crap to a couple friends recently and they nearly shit themselves. They had *no idea* that this was going on.
The mainstream is going to have to run with this story before any real progress can be made.

Appologies to Alfred Perlstein... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3423994)

"B-12."

"Miss! D-11."

"Hit! C-3."

"Miss! D-12."

"Hit! Dang! You sank my business model!"

Guess they now know how RIAA and MPAA feel about their file sharing software... ;^).

The Legality Of Spyware (5, Insightful)

I Want GNU! (556631) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424004)

Shouldn't spyware be illegal? Most of it operates as trojan horses, which are similar to viruses, and those are illegal. They mess up the normal functioning of computers and are unauthorized. Maybe they have privacy policies saying that this is ok, but would these policies stand up in court? Often these policies are only made as such so that the consumer won't challenge them, and they are probably questionable legally. You can't take away rights from the consumer that they can't give up.

I mean, if a virus had a license agreement, would it be ok to use it then? And what if the virus attached on to another program with a license agreement that you probably wouldn't read? That is really what these scumware programs are doing. It is an outrage!

Re:The Legality Of Spyware (0)

I.T.R.A.R.K. (533627) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424034)

Actually, a lot of virii (and especially trojan horse clients like BO) have license agreements stating that the author will not be held responsible for what a user does with his software.
It's not quite in the same league as an agreement stating that the user gives up the rights to his idle CPU cycles, or bandwidth, or privacy, etc... But it's still a binding agreement nonetheless.

"Our users are our strength. " (0, Offtopic)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424007)

"Our users are our strength. "

Really, that's all there is to it. In a world of ubiquitous communication and transferrence of ideas the only power comes from those who support you.

OSS/FS

Someone right a song. Where's the 'Marley' among us.

Re:"Our users are our strength. " (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424010)

Woah, can someone say 'Tron' flashback!!!!!!

OMG

Spyware -> Trojan horse (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424013)

Although I couldn't find a definition for the term trojan horse on CERT's website [cert.org] , a link was provided to the comp.virus FAQ [faqs.org] . According to it, a trojan horse is:

A TROJAN HORSE is a program that does something undocumented that the programmer intended, but that some users would not approve of if they knew about it.

What RadWare's software is doing makes it perfectly clear that spyware should be treated as a trojan horse (with legal implications where applicable), beacause that's what it is.

Not a trojan horse (2)

samael (12612) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424256)

does something undocumented

It's not undocumented! It's in the EULA and it tells you it does it!

This problem can be solved by... (3, Interesting)

bluelarva (185170) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424032)

Regarding the problem of spy ware uninstalling another program, perhaps it is a technical problem which there is a solution. Not an easy one but a system can be made to prevent such a thing.

1. First, software installation should be passive. On Windows (as well as other OS), you download some binary executable and run them. This foreign binary essentially has full reign over your system. Instead it should be a compressed package file with instruction embedded in it that describes what and where the package manifest should be installed. This package should be signed by the originator so that the package is tamper resistant and has some privilege to modify package that was originated from same source. This way the OS and user is in control rather than untrusted binary running amok on your system.

2. This is more difficult one to implement. I think application should have some levels of access on your system and they should be disabled by default. For example, multimedia player should not be allowed to delete files or initiate outgoing network connection. Even file read can be made more granular by restricting the file mime type that an application can read. Multimedia player has no business reading any other files than ones that it knows what to do with. This sort of sandbox could make it harder for application from whacking competitor's application.

Ultimately an implicit trust should be abandoned and implementing mandatory security may be the solution. Unfortunately this is not something that can be easily added easily but rather it must be designed into the underlying system itself.

Disclosure: I'm writing this at 6:00am after staying up all night writing code so I'm sure lot of loopy ideas are leaking from my brain at the moment. This may be one of them. Then again even a broken clock tells right time twice a day. ;)
---
jk

Re:This problem can be solved by... (2)

Yakman (22964) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424063)

In regards to point one, isn't that how things like MSI (The new Microsoft Installer) work? That is, you download an MSI package and the installer is a Windows component. However I would think that for flexibility MSI still lets you run your own code. So basically it'd be a locked down version of MSI - however it still would need to be flexible for some "complicated" apps.

With regards to point two - I suppose you could do this by having the person packaging the app specifiying what permissions the app needs and before installation the user has to okay the permissions the app wants. Again this would depend on a package based installer as you say :)

Anyway, I'm rambling too..

Re:This problem can be solved by... (2)

jafuser (112236) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424081)

2. This is more difficult one to implement. I think application should have some levels of access on your system and they should be disabled by default
It sounds like you're describing some of the fundamental features of a "capability-oriented" operating system, such as EROS [eros-os.org] .

Re:This problem can be solved by... (2, Informative)

Derleth (197102) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424092)

1. First, software installation should be passive. On Windows (as well as other OS), you download some binary executable and run them. This foreign binary essentially has full reign over your system. Instead it should be a compressed package file with instruction embedded in it that describes what and where the package manifest should be installed. This package should be signed by the originator so that the package is tamper resistant and has some privilege to modify package that was originated from same source. This way the OS and user is in control rather than untrusted binary running amok on your system.

Exactly. The self-installing executable is a fine example of convenience being the enemy of security: At first, it sounds like a good idea. The program knows how to install the program you want with no interference from you. But if the program installs something you don't want, you're screwed. Why a program should have that level of trust on an OS is another issue you address in your next point:

2. This is more difficult one to implement. I think application should have some levels of access on your system and they should be disabled by default. For example, multimedia player should not be allowed to delete files or initiate outgoing network connection. Even file read can be made more granular by restricting the file mime type that an application can read. Multimedia player has no business reading any other files than ones that it knows what to do with. This sort of sandbox could make it harder for application from whacking competitor's application.

That is a tough nut to implement, I'd imagine, but the work has been done: *nix file permissions. A file has only the permissions its creator (or the superuser, root) gives it (so 'image files' can't run as programs), and an executable created by a certain user only has the permissions of that user, so it can't whack anything the user himself couldn't whack. So, on a *nix-y system, you could make AdAware untouchable to normal users and then only install software (other than AA) as a normal user. Problem solved.

Ultimately an implicit trust should be abandoned and implementing mandatory security may be the solution.

I think all multi-user OSes have reached this conclusion.

Unfortunately this is not something that can be easily added easily but rather it must be designed into the underlying system itself.

True. The file-permission system wasn't bolted on to Unix.

I'm writing this at 6:00am after staying up all night writing code so I'm sure lot of loopy ideas are leaking from my brain at the moment. This may be one of them.

These loopy ideas are what make *nix boxes so tough to crack.

Re:This problem can be solved by... (1)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424097)

First, software installation should be passive.

Doesn't matter. The first time it runs it can do all it's untrusted binary crap that it needs to do to work properly / wants to do to fuck you over.

boot disk ad-aware needed (3, Interesting)

Barbarian (9467) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424043)

I think that as more spyware programs take tactics like that bundled with Radlight, a boot-disk image version of Ad-Aware is going to be needed for it to run properly, just like Virus scanners allow you to create a rescue disk. Eventually spyware programs are going to kill the ad-aware process as it starts. A boot disk version would allow you to run Ad-Aware (or similar) without interference from the spyware.

Re:boot disk ad-aware needed (1)

jocks (56885) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424137)

Boy are we onto dodgy territory here! If we have a boot disk ad-aware package we could end up with software from the other companies which require you to insert a floppy to give the software a key which it needs to run. The floppy could contain the ad-software which is part of the "key". Basically, you would have to launch the ad-software from floppy in order to launch the application you have downloaded.

As far as I can tell there is no software workaround to this problem as long as you are using applications like RadLight, you will be saddled with these problems.

It is clear that software houses are finding it harder to make income from their products and have to resort to this type of approach. This situation can only get worse as the use of open source software increases. The margins available to vendors are (and will continue) to contract. Even the mighty Microsoft are looking at other methods to make a buck i.e. Software Rental or Pay-per-use strategies. Ultimately even these models are flawed. If we go back 10 or so years (in the UK) televisions and VCRs could be rented from several high street stores, however as the number of people who could afford the systems outright increased, the market for rental dropped and these stores have all but gone.

In the software realm the number of people who can "afford" software has increased because the amount of software that is "affordable" has increased. Therefore the number of people willing to pay for applications will drop. Combine this with the "End of Free" transition that is taking place on the internet, where companies are increasingly charging for content, there is even less disposable income available for frivalous applications.

In my opinion the only way through this minefield, as a user, is to BUY yourself an open source distro, or donate cash to open source projects, and only use open source software. This way you avoid the ethical, moral and legal minefield that is Intellectual Property.

As an investor I would make a slow but measured transition of my stock-holding from closed-source vendors to open vendors. I would include the likes of IBM or SUN in this, at least they are moving in the right direction.

Re:boot disk ad-aware needed (4, Informative)

Technician (215283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424192)

Actually I run AdAware over my LAN. I attach the drives of all my machines and scan them from the admin console periodicaly. None of the workstation machines have privilages of any kind on the admin machine which does the scanning over the LAN. The admin machine is not sharing any drives. The scan is done at the same time the LAN is swept for viruses in additon to the local machines anti-virus software.

This catches any software that tries to attack the anti-virus software and the AdAware software.

Seriously scary (2, Interesting)

nyjx (523123) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424050)

This issue raises the very scary possibility of people regularly writing software which deliberately changes your system configuration when they are installed - and under guise of their user agreement. Bascally this is viral behaviour.

If Ad-Aware retaliates it will have to try and protect itself from the unistaller - how will it do that - clearly changes at the level of the user agreement are more or less useless (what user is going know or care that they have two confliciting user agreements in use...). So it'll be at the code level - what kind of a software war could that set off? Couple that with software that regularly uploads patches and updates (to protect against the latest rival software...).

Personally I'd rather refrain from having my destop turned into a competitive software eco-system!

not that hard.. (1)

Mr Coward (576592) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424069)

just add a password protection to the uninstaller

Re:Seriously scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424197)

there's a simple solution for that - sandboxing. once the app doesn't run as 'the root' or even as 'the user' it wont be able to uninstall other software.
of course beyond the most paranoid security freaks this is rather unpopular practice but due to software like that it might become more mainstream eventually.. so this might actually be a good thing. break things that need to be broken.

GM food safety tests rigged! (-1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424051)

BBC reports [bbc.co.uk] :

Safety tests on genetically modified maize currently growing in Britain were flawed, it has emerged.

The crop, T-25 GM maize, was tested in laboratory experiments on chickens.

During the tests, twice as many chickens died when fed on T-25 GM maize, compared with those fed on conventional maize.

virii (1, Interesting)

Mr Coward (576592) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424066)

so if i put a license agreement on a virus, it's legal :?

Adaware, while good, is similar to Radlight (3, Interesting)

dirk (87083) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424151)

I see lots of people talking about how Radlight doesn't inform the user (except in the EULA) that it will remove Adaware. They common arguement is that no one reads the EULA and it's not clear what is goin on, because the EULA is confusing. Is this much different than what Adaware does? IT just gives me a list of files it thinks are "offending" and asks if I want to remove them. It doesn't tell me what they are (outside of a name of the "spyware"), what they do, or any consequences of removing them. If I run Adaware and remove Cydoor, it doesn't give me any indication that it will stop Kazaa from working, and the average person has no idea that would be a consequence. Putting the notice in the EULA is not a good tactic as it somewhat obfuscates what is going on, but is Adaware not telling you the consequences of uninstalling the "spyware" (most of which isn't spyware, it's just software that shows ads) that mucg better?

Re:Adaware, while good, is similar to Radlight (2, Informative)

JonathanF (532591) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424225)

I'm not sure if you could argue that Ad-Aware is necessarily guilty of the same hidden-in-the-EULA offenses that something like Radlight would be. Simply by downloading and installing Ad-Aware, you know full well that you're getting a program that can deep-scan your system and remove files from it. Also, don't forget that Ad-Aware always lists the location of the content you're about to remove - and that may point out that it's part of KaZaA, revealing to the user that they've been duped.

If you're really serious about pruning out spyware from your system, you probably shouldn't be running KaZaA (or at least the regular version) in the first place, I think. That's like having a security specialist who insists on running a firewall, but leaves the settings at "low" all the time so that he can run a particular game. You can't claim to be actively concerned when you knowingly compromise your system.

Speaking of spyware, as I work tech support I can't believe how many people manage to 'infect' their systems with programs like Bonzi Buddy, Gator, and GoHip. Part of it is simply apathy; occasionally programs like Gator come as options with other apps, and from experience the casual user is terrified of ACTUALLY HAVING TO MAKE A CHOICE with their computer and accepts the default install options. Then there's the people who don't seem to realize that, when an installer for a program they don't need mysteriously pops up when they visit a site, they shouldn't install it. This is how viruses are spread... "but it was from someone I knew!"

The real kicker is that, at least once, I've actually had people blame these apps on the ISP I work for! Mind you, in the incident I'm thinking of (which only occurred last week) the customer assumed that paying for an ISP meant guaranteed technician visits for ANYTHING wrong with his service (even a five-minute "change your e-mail settings" problem) and had cancelled 3 prior ISPs to that effect, so I think it was more a question of his mental instability than any kind of major trend, but you get the idea of what kind of flak we can get at work...

Beowulf Cluster! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424171)

Haha! Imagine a Beowulf cluster running ad-warez like these! Haha!

One thing we forget (4, Interesting)

rickthewizkid (536429) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424211)

The problem I see is that you are not TOLD about the advertising software upon installation of certain software. I'm sure there are a few people who are willing to put up with some ads, or donate a few CPU cycles, in exchange for something free, but, I am not. However, I was not told about that fact and allowed to make my decesion based on the fact that program XXX would also covertly install advertising and distributed computing apps as well.

In sort, it's MY computer, _I_ should be the one who decides what is on it. Not only for my own desires, but also to be polite to other people on the 'net. What if one of these spyware programs were to catch (or come with) a virus? My computer would (without my knowledge) spread this virus to other people....

Of course, I run Linux anyway so this does not *really* apply to me. That is, until some large corporation buys the rights to Linux and starts releasing an adware-enabled version...

Bringing up eth0 [OK]
Downloading new artwork and features [OK]
Installing new ads [OK]

Oh the horror... :)

Excuse the brain wanderings, I've been up all night coding... :)

-RickTheSleepyWizKid

Re:One thing we forget (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424218)

HAHA. Imagine a beowulf cluster of these comments!

Re:One thing we forget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424220)


Hey man, I've been programming all night too. I wouldn't mind an XXX program popping up to compensate me for my lack of girlfriend.

Re:One thing we forget (1)

The Cookie Monster (129545) | more than 12 years ago | (#3424290)

What if one of these spyware programs were to catch (or come with) a virus? My computer would (without my knowledge) spread this virus to other people....


You know, the scarey thing is this isn't as farfetched as it sounds. The SDK Cydoor provides for download did have a virus in it [slashdot.org] , luckily in this case the virus was not attached to the part of the SDK that you distribute, but that's the only reason your hypothetical situation hasn't already occured.

Cydoor (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424255)

Many of these bundled "ad systems" are poorly written.
YES

I was writing a piece of software for which Cydoor was being considered as a revenue stream, so we downloaded the SDK to give it all a go.

1) The network then got hit by the Snowwhite and the seven dwarfs virus (this is primarily an email virus, but when it runs it copies itself into every zip on your computer), I thought it came from the Cydoor SDK zip as that was the first zip file that we noticed it in and nobody here is dumb enough to run executables attached to email (especially dodgy porn sounding ones). Of course I never knew as the virus might have run and copied itself in there before we noticed.

On a later date, after the SDK had been deleted (as you may have guessed, we didn't go with Cydoor), we downloaded the SDK again for some reason. Anyway, the virus was indeed in there. They may have gotten the virus the same way we did, but considering they never even noticed they had a virus (it's not hard to notice, even without antivirus software - it adds another file into all of your zips!) it wouldn't surprise me at all if their staff were so clued up that they routinely run outlook and click on dodgy executables mailed to them by strangers.

2) One of my pet peeves is software that modifies your system unnecessarily, I believe this to be a major reason why windows has a half life (notice how virgin installs never crash, but after a year or two are crashing many times a day). It also has other rammifications, for instance you can't run the software over a network (because all the bits it installed into the system it was installed on aren't on the computer you want to run the program on).

The Cydoor SDK has it's own install and as a cydoor customer, you aren't to change it - you just run it during the course of your own install. As you have no doubt guessed if you've read this far, the Cydoor install modifies the system.

I wouldn't have been quite so annoyed at this if it wasn't for two things:
Given what cydoor does, there is no need to modify the system upon program install, infact it appears that the Cydoor files
as they are currently written can be bundled with your application in your applications program directory and still figure everything out and function fine. I did not test this thorougly tho as you have to use their install anyway - however even if there are problems doing that, none will be hard for Cydoor to fix (just to head off any replies, the benifits of an application playing nicely with your system is going to far outweight saving 200K on a 40gig drive, and a few more K in the swap file).

It turns my program (sure I'm just somebody's code monkey and it's not really my program, but I do have some professional dignity) from something clean into a program that shits all over your system and then breaks when run over a network. Sentimental and pedantic maybe, but it is completely unnecessary for Cydoor to require me to do that.


Anyway, having just said how poorly I think they do things, I at least owe it to them to mention that their SDK was actually very nice, and (not counting the install) it was a breeze to integrate their stuff nicely into the program. IIRC they also give you many ways of doing so, allowing you to choose the most appropriate.

Ad-Aware is an extension of the Trash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3424261)

IMO Ad-Aware is a tool for finding and deleting specific programs. Or more generally put: it shows me files i might not want, that are on my computer, and lets me delete them.

In a sense, i could very well browse carefully through my hard drive's folder hierarchy and delete the files by myself. Ad-Aware only provides a nice GUI and do the search for me.

In this view, spyware and Ad-Aware are very different. So you cannot compare them.

BTW Radlight's EULA forbids me to use any other software than the Windows' Add/Remove program panel to uninstall Radlight's components, and pre-emptively deletes one of the software i may use to *illegally* uninstall Radlight's spyware.

I think it should go all the way, and delete the Trash, the Format program, and put itself in read-only mode whenever possible [/sarcasm]
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>