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Given Up to Spyware?

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the unset-passwords-and-publicly-writable-shares dept.

Privacy 733

Khuffie writes "Wired has an interesting article about how some people have given up to spyware, knowing that the software they're installing virtually takes over their internet connection. What's even more ironic is that they claim it's a necessary evil for free software, when things like the Google Toolbar virtually replace Gator, and there are many spyware-free P2P programs available."

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733 comments

fiRsT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014649)

linsux sux

Re:fiRsT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014666)

lun1x r0x0rZ!

j00 r t3h 5uXXXX

Download.Com (5, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014651)

I'll blame sites like Download.com that started this trend.

Download software foo from us, but it would come with Gator and a whole shitload of spyware. And then, everyone else started following suit.

I still remember times when spywares and trojans were hacker-only. Greedy corps brought it to the masses, and now it's become an accepted part of the "Internet experience."

Re:Download.Com (1)

courseB (837633) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014697)

giving up to spyware means people are giving up to what spyware gives up.

this 'trend' is not going away any time soon sadly.

Re:Download.Com (5, Interesting)

wyldeone (785673) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014888)

Download.com is definitely a big problem.

On their download page for Azureus [download.com] there is an editor's note saying that it contains spyware, and about half of the comments say that it installed malware on their computers. Probably the half that actually downloaded it from CNet.

Re:Download.Com (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014927)

Yeah, which kinda makes me wonder about the legality of such a thing.

But I suppose if you you can have legal warnings on cigarettes and alchohol and yet sell them, this is no different.

You ought to be able to make the judgement yourself.

Re:Download.Com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014964)

Download.com may have started the trend - that'd require some more evidence from you.

Gator, etc.. had Click-Thru licenses, which were quite polite, in my opinion. If you were stupid enough to download, license and install the crap, you get what you deserved..

Let's not be absurd -- the other "following" spyware outfits didn't follow suit.. They installed via ActiveX sec flaws.. with no end-user interaction whatsoever.

Greedy corps have fsck all to do with this.

Greedy abusers should be punished.

Accepted?! FSCK THAT! GET A GRIP!

For the uninitiated... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014653)

Spybot [kolla.de]
Adaware [lavasoftusa.com]

Oh, and Linux [linux.org].

Re:For the uninitiated... (4, Informative)

l810c (551591) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014945)

I clean up PC's all the time for friends. Got one here just tonight. I charge one 12-pack of beer per 500 infections :)

Now a couple of things about those programs. I do install each and most importantly Run Them For Each User account on a XP PC. Adaware I believe has a larger database/scope and catches more things. Spybot is able to get things running in memory by running first thing on reboot. One other free tool that I find very useful is this [mlin.net] control panel applet that is what msconfig should be.

There are Many things that these programs do Not catch even when updated. I ran into reaIplay.exe tonight. I had to boot into Safe Mode command line to manually delete it. A couple of weeks ago I had to delete a file from an alternate Windows file Stream. There exists this netherworld of alternate data in XP that is not accessable via any of the regular tolls.

And the last thing I do is install Firefox and tell them to Use It Damnit or I'm upping the charge to a case per 500 infections.

bad idea (2, Insightful)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014659)

This is a horrible trend; it will reward the 'marketing' groups that dream this crap up. I've got my mom working against all this crap via GoogleToolbar, Spybot, etc. It's a joke that she has to do that, but on dial up a few well laid spyware apps make her system un-surfable.

What will it take to break the back of Spyware? Spyassassin? ;)

PCB@

Re:bad idea (3, Insightful)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014742)

Google Toolbar itself is not much better than outright spyware - so you may want to rethink suggesting that one; Google corp is changing for the worse, so it's only a matter of time before they "enhance" their toolbar with more "features".

Ron Bennett

Re:bad idea (0, Troll)

Chuck Bucket (142633) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014809)

I agree with you, best to next move her to Firefox, with the mozdev google toolbar hack, that should stay more trustworthy in the long run.

Oh, and mark me as a troll, but gmail sucks imo.

PCB#

Re:bad idea (1)

tarunthegreat2 (761545) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014874)

Why does gmail suck, IYO? It beats the crap out of MS (which you probably take as given), but it beats out Yahoo as well. How does one offer 500 times more space than their closest competitor, and still manage to suck? Just curious, I guess I've fed the troll...

Storage? Bah! How about the REST? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014918)

It is not the storage space that makes GMail superior, either.

Effective GUI, innovativeness, simplicity, speed, interfacing with Google, and lastly space do it for me.

this is a great trend (-1, Flamebait)

poptones (653660) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014966)

People who are so stupid they can't get their minds around Free software deserve what they get. I don't even fix windows computers anymore; leave the sheep to the wolves and enjoy the show.

Interesting! (0, Offtopic)

floridagators1 (726469) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014662)

This story reminds me of France's military policy.

Re:Interesting! (1)

rinks (641298) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014783)

Over-aggressive programs attack users, unprovoked, and wreak havoc once they get there. Of course, they get there under the auspices that they're "helping" the users. Yeah, that does sound like a familiar military policy.

It's called apathy (5, Informative)

lordkuri (514498) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014663)

People just don't care... they can't be bothered to think about it. I've talked to so many people, "yeah.. I need to get a new computer, this one's slow" their system gets hosed, they just get a new computer. wtf is with that?

Re:It's called apathy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014743)

No, it's not apathy. It's more ignorance. People assume that their computer will work like a dishwasher or a vaccuum cleaner. No unwitting computer user actually thinks that there are things inside their computer that are actively destroying it.

Re:It's called apathy (1)

back_pages (600753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014754)

People just don't care... they can't be bothered to think about it. I've talked to so many people, "yeah.. I need to get a new computer, this one's slow" their system gets hosed, they just get a new computer. wtf is with that?

Uh, and in The Gods Must Be Crazy, a simple Coca-Cola bottle turns a simple man's world upside down.

wtf is with that is money, money, and a little more money. Computers do not wear out fast enough to support a very profitable market selling to the home users. Corporations can invest a little money in a handful of experts to clean up their machines and keep them functional. Ma, Pa, & Joe Redstate don't know, don't care to know, and probably couldn't learn if you explained it slowly. All this spyware causes their investments to foul up prematurely. If they go out and buy a new computer, it is nothing but a win for computer manufactures. Oh, and by the way, enjoy your additional license for the latest, greatest, security improved version of your favorite easy-to-use operating system!

wtf is what that? Profit, meet lordkuri.

Re:It's called apathy (5, Interesting)

insomnyuk (467714) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014771)

they just get a new computer. wtf is with that?

People are rationally ignorant. They don't have time to fiddle with something they don't understand. I had to fix my grandparents computer once, and when I tried to explain what I was doing they just said, "honey, we don't care."

As for people just getting new computers, at school I see far more students just put up with the spyware that debilitates their system. They'll bitch about it occasionally but they won't bother to do anything about it. Its amazing the threshold for bullshit some people put up with for computers.

Re:It's called apathy (1)

Banjonardo (98327) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014965)

Its amazing the threshold for bullshit some people put up with for computers.

I wonder when someone will use that statement to create a succesful business model. Like, we'll all bitch that people pay such a premium for brand x just because they can't be bothered to run adaware/spybot/giant/norton every day and update it religiously... almost like a mac.

Re:It's called apathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014777)

I think for most people it's ignorance. They think of their computer as they think of their cars. Once cars reach a certain amount of usage, they're junk. People think the same about their computer.

Plus, they've got Dell, HP, et cetera convincing them they need to upgrade to the newest fastest model every 6-18 months anyway, even if all they do is send email.

Re:It's called apathy (3, Funny)

Anubis350 (772791) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014784)

unlike you or me they don't have the technical know-how to fix their computer or the knowledge to know how easy it really is to do. So they think that they have to take it to $300/hr specialists to fix it. At those rates they decide its cheaper to order a cheap new dell. I have a friend who did this a couple weeks before meeting me a while ago and she explained the whole process to me after I fixed her machine with a combination of spyware balster, spybot, adaware, and a couple registry tweaks. I did it for a soda :-P

Re:It's called apathy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014884)

Next time ask for...something a bit more personal

Yup. (1, Insightful)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014664)

There's a lot of people out there who will look no further than the end of their nose for an answer.

My guess is that they spend about a second looking for something on the net, and grab the first listing on Download.com.

The jewels are sometimes well buried, but worth far more than the dog shit on the surface.

Beatings for these people who refuse to educate themselves - of course, when your generic XP box gets owned in 2 minutes, I guess I can't blame them.

Re:Yup. (1)

nmoog (701216) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014799)

The jewels are sometimes well buried, but worth far more than the dog shit on the surface.
Or just prefix your google searches with "open source". Thats what Ive got into the habbit of doing and have found heaps of gems.

Marketscore (2, Insightful)

Kizzle (555439) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014667)

Even data entered on secure websites -- such as passwords, credit card numbers and bank account numbers, information that is supposed to be viewable only by the sender and the intended recipient -- is accessible to Marketscore, since the company has developed a method that allows it to view encrypted information.

How does Marketscore view encrypted packets? Is it just monitoring your keystrokes? I doubt they are cracking all your traffic.

Re:Marketscore (1)

esanbock (513790) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014733)

Maybe they spy IE itself. It's pretty easy to plug into IE and receive its events. Either through DOM or screen-scraping.

Re:Marketscore (1)

tonyr60 (32153) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014737)

Likely they will get access to the data as it comes from the keyboard. Or they have access to the guv-mint's decryption keys...

Re:Marketscore (5, Insightful)

OldMiner (589872) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014812)

How does Marketscore view encrypted packets? Is it just monitoring your keystrokes? I doubt they are cracking all your traffic.

If they are indeed "routing all internet traffic" through them, they may be operating as your proxy for HTTP and HTTPS. When you try to make a secure connection to a site, you tell them. They make an HTTPS connection to the site, their connection is encrypted to the site. The make an HTTPS connection to you. The connection between you and them is encrypted. They see the unencrypted data. So do you.

</wild speculation>.

SSL, man-in-the-middle, and admin access (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014842)

Of course, SSL has provisions against such proxying, which it considers a man-in-the-middle attack, but after five seconds it came to me that if Marketscore's proxy installs stuff on your machine as administrator, it's probably installing Marketscore's root certificate as well.

Re:SSL, man-in-the-middle, and admin access (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014899)

Aren't man-in-the-middle attacks illegal? Howcome these guys aren't in jail?

Given Up? (1)

sbszine (633428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014668)

I think there's also a substantial number -- perhaps the majority -- who simply don't care, or are in denial about the level of spyware infestation. The way the average punter sees it, it's something that only technical boffins who want to ruin end their toolbar-collecting fun care about. I have a sad anecdote about this in TFJ [slashdot.org].

Re:Given Up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014716)

TFJ? What is that?

Acronym (1)

sbszine (633428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014734)

TFJ? What is that?

The Fucking Journal, in the vein of TFM (manual), TFA (article), etc.

Re:Acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014762)

Don't forget TFC [planethalflife.com]

Somone get these ppl some free software! (5, Insightful)

Zeromous (668365) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014680)

You know...what's disturbing about the theme of this article, is there is so much free software out there that doesn't require spyware, and all of these people are completely unaware.

Re:Somone get these ppl some free software! (3, Interesting)

Apreche (239272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014766)

yes, it is disturbing. I imagine that a significantly large portion of the Internet is dedicated to free/open-source software. It completely boggles the mind how you can be on the net and not notice it. It's as if you went on a trip to New York City you stop in the middle of Times Square and ask someone "Do they have Taxis here?"

Firefox is spreading well enough, but other things like aim clients amaze me. I use gaim, and some people say they prefer trillian or something else of that nature. But the number of people using the AOL AIM client is astounding. I mean, seriously.

German Firefox was spyware (1)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014893)

Fixed now due to complaints [mozillazine.org]

It wasn't a third party download either. It was the version you got directly from Mozilla and the spyware part wasn't an option, it was part of the package.

If I find out a piece of software I need has spyware I run AdAware to clean it up and if that doesn't fix it, I uninstall the program when I'm done with whatever I was using it for and find something else.

If the program is up front about it and isn't an obnoxious little whore about it, I'll let it slide. Google Toolbar is spyware but it's nothing I object to and nothing I can't opt out of. eDonkey decided to infect Windows with a pain in the butt to remove browser hijack so that will never be used again. Apparently the ads weren't good enough for them. I finished what I started downloading and completely removed eDonkey and cleaned up the spyware.

If Mozilla had been up front about their spyware in the German version of the browser, they wouldn't have had such a negative reaction. All they had to do was make it an option and point out that it helps fund the foundation to try to persuade people to use it. But, instead they decided to use typical spyware tactics and tried to slip it in under the radar without the user's consent.

Re:Somone get these ppl some free software! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014924)

To be fair, not everything on the internet is immediately visible from other points. It's more like the above ride with it occurring in dense fog with very occasional patches of clear.

Re:Somone get these ppl some free software! (1)

Kiryat Malachi (177258) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014934)

Two things about gaim:

Up until I checked again recently, gaim had been using TOC, not OSCAR. TOC lacks certain nice features, like being able to check people's away messages, server-side buddy lists, etc, etc. Until gaim added OSCAR support, I wasn't willing to use it. Not sure when this was added, but when I played with it a few years ago, it didn't.

Second, work. The official AIM client supports HTTPS tunneling. gaim does not. My employer doesn't care if I use AIM, but they do require I tunnel it through the secure proxy. Why do they require I go through the secure proxy instead of the regular? No idea.

But for the most part, the spyware-infested stuff is *exactly* the kind of software where decent (or at least equivalent) open/free alternatives exist. Too bad people don't always know about them.

Re:Somone get these ppl some free software! (5, Insightful)

TheBurrito (767042) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014820)

I tried to get my dad to switch to Firefox for months before he recently gave in. His reasoning: "I just don't trust it... They can't be up to any good if they're not asking for anything in return".

He's actually demanding spyware, despite his constant paranoia that the boogeymen are invading his machine. The idea of good, free software is completely foreign to the majority of users (in my experience).

Why they have given up (1)

Quill_28 (553921) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014681)

What's kinda sad is what these people most want to do is e-mail, internet, send/receive pictures, do some basic word processing.

I reinstalled XP for my aunt who stopping using her pc, within minutes of being on the internet it was getting nailed. I couldn't even download patches.

It frustrated me and I know what I am doing.
please no jokes.

next time take a router, (3, Informative)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014723)

or real hardware firewall, set to refuse all unasked for connections...

open ports one at a time.....

just having a 1 port router will keep most of the fresh install vulnerabilities off line to the net, and allow you to get what you need.

Re:next time take a router, (5, Informative)

monkeymanatwork (653088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014805)

Good idea, but many ISPs (Comcast) don't support routers. I have called Comcast when their crappy connection goes up and down (happens about once per week these days for a whole day). The first thing they ask is if you have a router. If you say yes, they tell you they do not support routers, and refuse to help you any further. I asked them if they sell a router solution, and the answer is "no." Apparently their solution to the problem is for you to use WinXP and enable firewalling, or buy ZoneAlarm (which they also don't sell).

Comcast is a monopoly where I and many others live. Let's hope the Supremes force them to open their cable lines to competitors. The result of them forcing BellSouth to do so has resulted (finally) in my recent switch to an unlimited local and long distance provider for $45/month.

Re:next time take a router, (1)

unclethursday (664807) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014920)

Comcast doesn't support the router itself, true. However, even though I've had a router for years now, they haven't refused to help me if my modem goes on the fritz.

Of course, most of the time I know I just need to unplug the modem for about 30 secs to 1 minute to let the memory clear itself, and then it will normally work. If this doesn't work, then I call and ask to see if there is an outage. And, if there isn't an outage, then we walk through the tech support until their systems update and it reports there is an outage, or the modem decides it wants to start sending and receiving again.

Maybe they have a different view of routers for different parts of the country. I don't know.

Re:next time take a router, (3, Informative)

Osty (16825) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014948)

Good idea, but many ISPs (Comcast) don't support routers.

They don't do tech support on the routers because they don't know how you've set them up. If your router is the cause of a problem (you've blocked all outgoing traffic, asked-for or otherwise, for example), they don't want to waste the time on you. That doesn't mean they don't support routers on their network (as in, routers won't work). They do. If you know your router is fine, next time lie to them. They can't tell.


have called Comcast when their crappy connection goes up and down (happens about once per week these days for a whole day).

I had a similar problem where my net connection would go down at night, and come back up during the day, making it completely useless to me (I'm at work during the day). After months of dealing with this and several technician visits, one finally decided to check the connections from the street to my house. Lo and behold, there was water damage at one of the connection points. During the day when it was warm, the connection would warm up and expand enough to work. At night when it cooled down, it would contract and lose signal. A 5 minute splice job later and everything worked perfectly. That was almost a year and a half ago, and I've not had any problems since.


Comcast is a monopoly where I and many others live. Let's hope the Supremes force them to open their cable lines to competitors. The result of them forcing BellSouth to do so has resulted (finally) in my recent switch to an unlimited local and long distance provider for $45/month.

I take it you've never had a DSL line. The infrastructure owners are required to allow others to sell their lines, but it results in no lower prices, no better service (tech support), and in fact causes even more problems by adding layers. When I was on DSL and had a problem, I first had to call my ISP (Speakeasy, who have some shady business practices regardless of the good geek press they get), who would then have to call my CLEC (Covad) if it wasn't Speakeasy's problem, and Covad would then have to call my ILEC (Verizon) if the problem was anything other than their DSLAM in the local CO. Verizon was quick enough to come out and solve any loop issues if it really was their problem, but you could literally spend days trying to figure out what was going on and where the problem was at (you're only allowed to contact your ISP directly; Covad and Verizon wouldn't even recognize me as a customer when I tried calling them directly). I'm not saying that the local monopoly of cable is any better, but in this one case I can know where the problem is -- if it's not my equipment, then it's Comcast.


Of course, Comcast's tech support is pretty much teh suck, anyway. Their extent of knowledge doesn't go past, "Did you reboot your modem?" If that doesn't work, you have to schedule a technician visit, in 4 hour windows, during working hours (ie, if you work a normal day job, be prepared to call in sick or late while you wait for the Comcast van to show up, typically at the very end of their 4 hour window).

Well if you reason like that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014685)

Yeah I don't care if the government breaks down my door and searches my place in the middle of the night, it's a necessity to live safely within the US.

Education (5, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014686)

Quite simply, this is a situation that can be addressed with education. Since we don't have access to big media, we have to do it by word-of-mouth. This means spreading Firefox and other crap-free alternatives, even free plugins for IE if someone chooses to use that browser. It's also important not to force things on people in our typically annoying geek ways. Educate people, so that they can decide for themselves and realize that there is a world of software in which this stuff is frowned upon and actively fought against. Someday with enough effort, spyware will become an amusing memory.

Not a good sign (5, Interesting)

MasterB(G)ates (718264) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014688)

Oh great so now these authors of these spyware programs are going to think that we don't actually mind about their takeover of our pc's.

Spyware makers hear us - we do NOT like your damned "software".

not me atleast! (1)

Jimmy The Tulip (770323) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014690)

I had fought and will continue fighting with them till I use windoze.

recently I uninstalled zonealarm and norton and found that within few days of surfing and downloading stuff, I was infected with many spywares. I was really annoyed because they were sucking my computer!

I tried downloaded programs like lavasoft liked from the microsoft site, but I was not effective. Then in vain I used msconfig and searched each one of them in registry and deleted them. I learnt later that I had to disable the system restore in windows xp.

Then I started my computer in safe mode and deleted files like conscorr.exe, msbe.dll,localNRD.dll etc etc!

Now I am happy without them!

Re:not me atleast! (2, Informative)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014753)

Zonealarm and Norton (the AV part at least) both have very little to do with spyware detection. I wonder what else you were doing differently?

Re:not me atleast! (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014790)

I installed Windows 2000 alongside 98SE, and added SP4, while offline. Got online, and first thing I did was talk to a guru about killing off all non-essential services. 2000's got most of the same vulnerabilities as XP but I am not affected because (1) I keep reasonably up to date, (2) I do not run any nonessential services, (3) I made sure to install Firefox as the default browser before even getting 2K online.

Moll.

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014691)

I for one welcome our new spyware overlords.

YORKLE!

TCO (5, Insightful)

randmairs (587360) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014699)

Shouldn't all this anti -virus, -spyware, -malware, etc. software be added to the TCO for a Windows license both in cost and time?

It's the common-man's mentality (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014713)

Foolish notions are stated, repeated and believed. Things like "if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear" and "you get what you pay for" ring through their heads. These faiths are unshakable... might be easier to convince them there is no god.

I've had people swear up and down to me that I couldn't use OpenOffice.org in a business setting even when the software's license specifically states otherwise. People believe the craziest things. It will just take some getting used to... this whole free software thing.

Re:It's the common-man's mentality (1)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014827)

The attitudes expressed by many folks regarding spyware illustrates well why the founders of the United States were distrustful of the masses; U.S. is a Federal Republic.

Ron Bennett

Formatting.. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014714)

Personally I just format my sister's comp every 3 months or so, I don't know how she does it, but she manages to fill it up with more spyware/adware/free smilies than I thought possible, so I just save her important data, and format. I used to try and stop it all, and try to educate my sister, but that didn't go too well.

Re:Formatting.. (2, Insightful)

beejay54 (781673) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014936)

I'm no apple zealot, but seriously, get her a mac. It will save your life! Issues like viruses, spyware, and the like just aren't a serious issue with macs. Mostly because it's not the most popular system out there. During my summers I would work as a tech for a local government agency, trust me when I say way too much time is spent trying to support Windows as an non-technical end user OS. Don't get me wrong, I think Windows is a very decent OS. But the all-fixing 'lets just do a fresh OS install' just prolongs a problem that is really with educating the end user.

Re:Formatting.. (3, Interesting)

unclethursday (664807) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014963)

While I won't go so far as to say that Mac OS (especially OS X) is adware/spyware and virus free, I will say the chances of getting these things on a Mac are exponentionally less than with a Windows box.

Listen to the parent of this post. Get her a iBook (the 14" ones are $1400 with a 1.33 GHz G4 and built in Airport Extreme), she'll be amazed at how little it slows down because there isn;t a bazillion malware programs hitting it at the same time. Just get her to at least 512 MB of RAM (I have 640 MB on my iBook), otherwise it could run a bit slow at times.

Hidden vs. Visible Costs (5, Informative)

Geckoman (44653) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014719)

It's not really a trade-off between privacy and free software, it's a trade-off between privacy and convenience. Many people have made the value judgment that the time and effort necessary to fight spyware and find non-treacherous alternatives is worth more to them than the privacy they give up.

The cost of the privacy lost is invisible and (apparently) non-intrusive, while the cost of the time and effort is obvious and immediately quantifiable.

Think about how many times you've heard someone say things along these lines: "Can you believe I spent 6 hours cleaning spyware off my system and had to reinstall Windows twice? Then I had to find new software with a privacy policy acceptible to me, and it took hours to download and install it all."

Compare that to how many times you've heard someone say something like: "Wow! I had spyware all over my system. It was tracking my shopping and browsing habits, reporting my computer usage stats to ad agencies, and sending my IP and passwords to a scam company in Russia!"

The cost former is obvious to even the most ignorant users, while the cost of the latter requires much more insight and knowledge.

Pay at once or a little bit at a time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014867)

Spyware doesn't just cost you privacy. It slows your computer to a crawl. Just imagine how much productivity you lose to this scumware. :(

I think people who decide to save time by sacrificing privacy will have neither.

"Free software"? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014728)

"a necessary evil for free software"? If I were RMS, I would be astounded. It is not "free" as we all here supposedly know (like GPL or Creative Commons free), but simply money free. So basically, the spyware is free as in beer, but Open Source/Free Software is free as in freedom (from beer and spyware!)

Re:"Free software"? (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014796)

When talking about it, free software usually refers to the money-free most people think of. When you capitalize it to become Free Software, then you're referring to Stallman's idea. :)

Re:"Free software"? (2, Funny)

AnotherFreakboy (730662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014904)

Woah, woah, woah.

OSS has freedom from beer?

Does this mean that I can't drink when working on open source software?

Someone needs to make spyware illegal (5, Insightful)

dangermen (248354) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014748)

Someone needs to make spyware illegal unless someone actively buys a PC sponsored with the crap. ie. those 'free' bannered PCs from years ago. The average computer user just is not capable of keeping this crap off of their computer. Windows is becoming more and more useless as a plaform because of this 'stuff'.

All I can say is THANK YOU KDE for kiosk mode. I now have my parents surfing with a crap free computer, dynamic DNS, auto-updates, and has been running bug free for months now. 8)

Snoopy Software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014750)

Some say the snoopy software is a fair trade-off
Snoopy software?! Where can I find this, do they have Spike software as well?

Oh man (1, Funny)

xrayspx (13127) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014752)

I go on vacation for a *DAY*, and look what happens. I'm sorry, I lost control of the Internet for a second there.

Everything should be back to normal in a minute, no one /REALLY/ enjoys spyware, don't worry.

But for the Grace of Gabe... there go ye? (4, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014764)

> What's even more ironic is that they claim it's a necessary evil for free software, when things like the Google Toolbar virtually replace Gator, and there are many spyware-free P2P programs available."

To quote a few users from the article [wired.com] :

"I had a good idea what the Marketscore software does, though I didn't read the entire user agreement"
"I can't surf the web and I can't trade files if I uninstall the spyware."
"I can't afford a subscription to keep my antivirus software updated. Marketscore doesn't charge any fees."
"They said they'd opted to install it on their computers because they wanted the eWallet application that stores passwords and credit card numbers, entering them into web forms with one click. The users said you have to get the adware if you want the eWallet."
"In Hungary, many people who grew up under communist rule came to accept government interference in every aspect of their lives as inescapable. They were too tired to fight anymore, so they convinced themselves that communism was OK and even a benefit."

For those of you on the "Steam Rules" side of the debate: "Any of that sound familiar?"

THIS is the reason those of us on the "Steam Sucks" side of the HL2 debate have taken the stand we've chosen to take. We're not warez d00dz. And we recognize that Vivendi are a bunch of middlemen who aren't worthy to fellate a goat. And we acknowledge that Valve has gone to the dark side (as Kazaa and the other P2P apps did) of spywaredom - at least not yet.

But we see Valve's solution as a cure that's worse than the disease of piracy. And we see the main arguments of Steam's proponents as eerily reminiscent of the examples of clueless luserdom shown in the Wired article. And we ask: can your system's integrity be that easily sold?

Every time a Steam defender speaks, he or she should take a very close look at his or her argument... and the arguments presented by the spyware defenders in the Wired article, and ask yourself: but for the grace of Gabe, there go ye?

What we need is a good hacking job (5, Interesting)

TheUnFounded (731123) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014767)

What we need is a good hacking job on one of these companies. Every now and then we hear "Amazon.com/newegg.com/etc Hacked, millions of credit card numbers stolen". But Amazon.com has deals with Visa, Mastercard, etc. and they happily protect their customers. What would happen if a company like this was hacked, and tons of information was stolen? Maybe people would wise up to the fact that no, its not OK for these people to monitor your activities, even if "it's not like there's anything interesting or criminal in my e-mail.""

"People are dumb" (4, Insightful)

wviperw (706068) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014775)

What these people who accept spyware don't seem to realize is just how much it screws with their computer. Even if they DON'T care that some random shady company is stealing their private information, the spyware can still bring their computer to a stand still.

I work in the IT department at my college and 99% of the problems that students have in the dorms is spyware/adware related. I've seen brand new Dell computers literally slowed down to a halt as a result of the crap that has been installed on them within a few days. Students somehow manage to get used to the unbearably slow speed at which their 2-3ghz computers run at, never associating the slowness with the plethora of file-sharing programs, toolbars, and search tools they have installed on their computer.

So yeah, I can't believe that some people actually think that spyware is a necessary evil of free software. That paints a sad picture of the current state of the Internet, IMO. I want to say "People are dumb," but that wouldn be neither fair nor valid. People are simply uneducated in these matters and do not care enough to become educated.

I've given up to Slashdot english (0, Offtopic)

nysus (162232) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014788)

You can't escape it. Just have to learn to keep your mouth shut and live with it, right?

Reep the benefits (0, Troll)

thedogcow (694111) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014791)

Ah, this is where I like to kick my feet up and tilt the chair further back.

As a mac and linux user, I don't have to worry about this. The PC/Windows scenario will eventually be the death of its self.

Re:Reep the benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014898)

yeah, i've just got to suffer the mis-fortune of running Linux over VNC on a 400 MHz K6-2, so my Linux experience is slow (its enough for IRC and email).

At least its not being slowed further. :D

Valid points (5, Insightful)

Donny Smith (567043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014798)

As horrible as it may seem to some /.ers most people don't really care about their privacy - convenience is more important. Hence this acceptance of spyware and reluctance to switch from Windows to a less spyware-prone system.
No wonder many prefer spyware-infested Windows box to a clean Linux system - it's more convenient that way.

The other day I installed Firefox extension SearchStatus 1.0.4 - the main features being display of PageRan and Alexa rank of pages browsed. Of course soon afterwards I realized in order for it to work the extension sends all URL I visit to Alexa.com (and Google, which is indicated in their toolbar privacy-related help pages).
This is how convenience wins over privacy (I disabled the Alexa Rank only).

I've heard from several ISPs that some customers complain when all spam is blocked - they LIKE to receive spam because they're bored or like "specials".

boy if ever there were a clear demonstration (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014806)

This has to be the clearest example of the difference between free as in speech and free as in beer.

Demand spyware scanning in your virus scanner. (4, Insightful)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014825)

I don't understand why spyware isn't seen for what it is -- a commercial take on malicious programming. Any virus scanner worth its salt should scan for and remove this stuff as it's often worse than the viruses one will encounter, but the only one I've seen that'll do it is Avast!'s antivirus software.

There may be some question about what the user wants and doesn't want, but that doesn't excuse antivirus manufacturers from dodging the problem. If the ability to prevent spyware from installing was ubiquitous (as are virus scanners nowadays) we'd be winning the war. Nobody should have to accept this as an industry practice; things have been getting way too lax with EULAs and intrusive copy protection methods as it is, but this is over the line and we should treat the people who distribute it as we would those who distribute viruses or worms.

Spyware has ruined several apps for me (4, Interesting)

saskboy (600063) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014828)

I used to use Bearshare, and still would today, if it weren't infested with things like NetDotNet.
It would be so nice if Kazaa would just work, instead of clinging to kazaa lite k++.

And I'd pay a one time fee for a product like MSN Messenger with working voice and camera functions, but they know they can make way more money long term by selling ads to me for the rest of my MSN-using-life.

These people are why spyware exists (5, Insightful)

Barto (467793) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014833)

It's people like those interviewed for the article that are the reason spyware and adware exist. People who are CLUELESS, in general and specifically with computers, that don't see the irony in installing a program that records your user/pass combinations and web history to get a "free" "antivirus" "scanner".

Just like Nigerian scams, enlarge your penis spam, etc.

Isn't spyware illegal now? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014841)

I thought congress passed a law a month or two ago making it illegal?

Perhaps the FBI should start knocking down doors from all these companies that produce it.

I agree trojan horses and worms are illegal and you can get thrown in the slammer for years if you write..... but not if your a corporation using it to sell to dataminers.

Let's get these out of the way then: (0, Offtopic)

calculadoru (760076) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014889)

1. In Soviet Russia, spyware uninstalls you!
2. In Korea, only old people install spyware!
3. I for one would like to welcome our spyware overlords. Really.
4. Natalie Portman spyware good, SCO spyware bad.
5. Micro$oft sucks, Netcraft confirms it.

Feel free to add whatever /. cliches I might be forgetting, so we can get them all in one post, mod them up, have everyone read them, and then maybe they'll RTFA for once. Which, by the way, isn't half bad.

It's only strange to the Slashdot crowd... (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014896)

...because we know a lot about tech, and most people don't. We don't tolerate our computers being screwed over with spyware. But - it's only because we know what it is, how bad it is, and what's at stake.

But to put it in perspective - I'm sure a professional mechanic would think I'm exactly the same kind of lunatic if he were to have a look at the brakes on my van. I know there's a problem, and I haven't made it a priority to fix it. The mechanic (bein a pro and knowing what you can and can't get away with) would probably think I was insane.

Hurts (2, Funny)

gmerideth (107286) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014900)

It hurts my head to think down this level. There's plenty of examples to give where the same lack of understanding and ignorance would lead them into a ditch slowly filling in their car with sand but I'm to damm tired and frustrated after having removed fucking gator's calendar application from ... a damm windows 2003 server because the ass clown admin thought it was neat.

These people are to damm stupid to use computers. I agree with the CIA guy; let them all take tests.

"I'm sorry, your too fucking stupid to use Internet A, you get to use the Short Bus Internet where your system will regularly crash and you'll have to call your local nine year old to come fix it for you, here's your pass"...

Man in the middle attack (1)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014923)

The whole thing is tragic, but the part that really made me raise my eyebrows was this:

Even data entered on secure websites -- such as passwords, credit card numbers and bank account numbers, information that is supposed to be viewable only by the sender and the intended recipient -- is accessible to Marketscore, since the company has developed a method that allows it to view encrypted information.

I'm dubious, but if this is true, it means they've broken the public key encryption used in SSL and are running a classic man-in-the-middle attack on everyone in their "panel"!

Such smart users! (1, Insightful)

almostmanda (774265) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014932)

These are the same people who throw their P4 machine in the dumpster a year after they get it because it's "obselete and slow." ONE spyware may not be noticeable, but when you have them fighting for control of your internet connection, startup page, toolbar of choice, etc, it's gonna get to the point where your machine won't boot up anymore. Then, it's $1,000 to Dell for a new machine. And the first thing they install? Yep....Weatherbug!

They "accept" spyware because WE let them (1)

Bronz (429622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014944)

Many of us returned home for the Thanksgiving holiday season to find a lot of very sad computers anxious for our visit. Allow me quick example...

My father recently purchased a new Dell, and um, Dude, he's getting spyware! I fixed him up. A few days later, he asks me why Outlook Express is blocking some attachments via email. It didn't do that "before I was there". *Sigh*. I've deprived him from his Extreme Elf Bowling (Now with Gator,CoolWebSearch *and* Pr0nDialer 2008 at no extra charge.)

Next thanksgiving instead of fixing these zombies I'm just burning a dozen "live" linux CDs. It will allow most of them to still get online and try to fix their own problems. It's tough love but as I titled this reply; we continue to carry the burden of their apathy. In this situation, it's really up to us to stop the cycle.

Spyware in Developing Countries (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11014954)

I just returned from Sierra Leone, likely the poorest country in the world.

A good internet connection is 8kbs and that's when the power hasn't failed or you have petrol for your generator and the phone system delivers a dial tone.

Even so, the 8kbps costs $200 a month in a country where an OK wage for a laborer is $2 a day -- when a job can be had at all.

When time after time I see 30-50 percent of that 8kbs bandwidth wasted by spyware, it really makes me angry.

Spyware hurts entire developing countries.

there: proof. (1)

nFriedly (628261) | more than 9 years ago | (#11014968)

I think this is proof of what I've been saying all along: *People*Are*Morons*. This applies as a rule to most situations however there are some exceptions (/. being one of them... usualy)
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