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Spyware or Researchware?

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the big-brother-is-logging dept.

Security 244

prostoalex writes "When the story of Firefox Web site visitors being predominantly male was published, many questioned the methodology used to acquire such research data. This MSNBC article talks about another research company, ComScore Networks, using a free antivirus utility to lure the Web users into downloading a small utility to their hard drives. The catch? The software watches not only sites visited, but even locations of the mouse clicks. ComScore swears the final data does not contain any personal information, but, as the article states, anti-spyware utility manufacturers are still thinking whether to include it on their list."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Defunkt (179286) | more than 9 years ago | (#12309999)

fp bitches

i hope you choke on a dick and die

Gendericator (5, Funny)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310004)

To find out the gender of a visitor, just create a site which requires visitors to hold one key while moving the mouse.

Re:Gendericator (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310019)

Or take control of the user's webcam and aim it down below.

Re:Gendericator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310029)

That doesn't help.

Re:Gendericator (5, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310043)

To find out the gender of a visitor, just create a site which requires visitors to hold one key while moving the mouse.

Or you can ask... most people are honest about their gender unless they are in a chat room. But without any social interaction nobody has a reason to lie.

Re:Gendericator (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310091)

But without any social interaction nobody has a reason to lie.

i'm a hermaphrodite, i have to lie, i'm never an option to them!

mod parent FUNNY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310103)

ROTFLMGDARTFO!!!!

OT:Re:mod parent FUNNY! (1)

zobier (585066) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310262)

Seriously now...
RollingOnTheFloorLaughingMyGodDamnArseRightTheFOff
isn't that a bit overkill?

Re:OT:Re:mod parent FUNNY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310284)

ummm.... why did you censor "fuck" but not "G*ddamn"? I would think it would be better the other way around, if at all and not both...

I know most people don't make an issue of it, but it _is_ still a commandment, and it _is_ distressing for some of us to see.

Thanks for your consideration in the future.

Re:OT:Re:mod parent FUNNY! (-1, Offtopic)

MasterSLATE (638125) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310343)

just to be controversial, and just because censorship sucks fuck God. God damn.

Re:OT:Re:mod parent FUNNY! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310350)

Fucking Christ, go to hell freak!

Re:OT:Re:mod parent FUNNY! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310530)

but why is it distressing to see?

I can't understand why you'd find it offensive, it's not you, the person reading it who has done anything wrong....

besides, if you believe there's a God, and you believe He created the world and everything in it, and you believe that He is everywhere, but you don't think he'll see past the * in G*ddamn, then you've got problems of your own.

Re:Gendericator (5, Funny)

eric76 (679787) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310113)

most people are honest about their gender unless they are in a chat room. But without any social interaction nobody has a reason to lie.

On the other hand, if they had a slashdot poll asking what is your sex and the possible choices were "male", "female", "none", "both", "not applicable", and "i ate a pizza for supper last night", the "male" and "female" would probably be on the low end of the answers.

Re:Gendericator (5, Funny)

Trejkaz (615352) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310409)

In Soviet Russia, the Cowboy Neal option forgets You!

INFORMATIVE?! (1)

icedcool (446975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310702)

COME ON! Thats funny for +2 cliche useage

Re:Gendericator (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310456)

That's because 90% of Slashdotters are Communist bots anyhow.

Re:Gendericator (3, Funny)

OneArmedMan (606657) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310333)

http://www.bash.org/?100796 [bash.org]

where the men are men
the women are men
and everyone under 18, has a .gov ident!

Re:Gendericator (4, Funny)

rjelks (635588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310441)

I lie about personal information all the time. It's my small way of messing up the statistics.

Re:Gendericator (1)

thegamerformelyknown (868463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310546)

I'm much like that, except I lie to keep any info on-line about me straight. So, if a bunch of sites hand out my info to people, and someone makes a search engine for it, I will be Male, Female, and ages 1-200 :D

Re:Gendericator (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310466)

Or you can ask... most people are honest about their gender

Or give them at least the option NOT to answer that question. What does it matter if I read a page like this one [www.unb.ca] if I am a man or a women? Even more when I have to enter an apply for hotmail.

I am so much emancipated that these things should NOT matter. Do they ask you for your skincolour? No, because that is racism, yet asking what your sex is is allowed and normal.

Re:Gendericator (1)

Saanvik (155780) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310629)

And you are just as likely to get a correct response as the psuedo-spyware company got when they asked their users what their sex was.

Re:Gendericator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310083)

Is that the one key above the normal letters, the one key on the keypad, or the o, n and e keys all at once?

Re:Gendericator (0, Flamebait)

NoGuffCheck (746638) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310136)

To find out the gender of a visitor, just create a site which requires visitors to hold one key while moving the mouse.

or ask them to right-click.. ive never met a female who could master that one....

Re:Gendericator (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310296)

"or ask them to right-click.. ive never met a female who could master that one...."

Oh yeah, we aaaaaaallllll believe your range of experience is all encompassing.

Re:Gendericator (1)

123abc987 (865160) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310609)

He's on slashdot, the only females he'll meet IRL are the ones made out of latex. or whatever those blow-up dolls are made of.

Re:Gendericator (1)

lheal (86013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310317)

Ask them to stand and hold their mouse. If after 30 seconds they shake it and put it down, you have your answer.

Re:Gendericator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310733)

I don't get it.

Depends... (5, Insightful)

LewsTherinKinslayer (817418) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310020)

The difference between Spyware and Usage Statistics pretty simple: is it clearly stated to the End User and is optionable. Essentially, its not spyware if you know about it up front and have the ability to (actually,) turn it off.

Re:Depends... (3, Insightful)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310102)

Absolutely. This is sheer paranoia. If you go to the AV utility linked above, it clearly states:

Marketscore is part of an online market research community with over 2 million members worldwide. Marketscore relies on its members to gain valuable insight into Internet trends and behavior. In exchange for having their Internet browsing and purchasing activity observed, members have access to free email virus scanning and other benefits. Marketscore DOES NOT sell personal information; nor do members receive any advertisements as a result of their participation.

Unless there is evidence that they're lying and ARE actually collecting personal data or the program tries to hide itself and prevent you from uninstalling it, this is a non-issue. Absent some sort of incriminating evidence that isn't immediately apparent, the company is doing nothing wrong.

Re:Depends... (4, Informative)

rjelks (635588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310462)

Remember, Gator(or whatevertheyswitchedtheirnameto) isn't spyware either...they said so.

It doesnt matter... (1)

emjoi_gently (812227) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310646)

If the software is "Spying" on me or not.
To be honest that's never been much of an issue to me. I dont do much worth spying on.

What does matter is that there is this program that's hacked into my networking, using my bandwidth and CPU, potentially messing up the networking on my PC. That's the biggest hassle.

I see plenty of PCs that have their TCP/IP scrambled, or brought to a crawl by things like New.net

The "Spying" is the least of the troubles.

Re:Depends... (5, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310124)

Most importantly, is it overly difficult to remove? If the software was either carelessly created or intentionally designed to resist uninstallation, it could cause problems for the user and should be avoided.

Depends...Watch this!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310300)

"The difference between Spyware and Usage Statistics pretty simple: is it clearly stated to the End User and is optionable. Essentially, its not spyware if you know about it up front and have the ability to (actually,) turn it off."

There's the "observer" phenomenon. In other words, will the fact that you know your under observation change the behaviour they're trying to observe?

Re:Depends... (5, Interesting)

Dead Kitty (840757) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310537)

A new question is exactly which parties does the software need to be upfront with? The Marketscore software has just recently changed it's tatics, it's no long just an issue with the End User anymore. They now are actively hiding themselves from end servers. The implications?

Banks with online banking services have long banned authentication attempts coming from customers using known Marketscore proxies for obvious security reasons. This is due the violation of the terms & conditions presented when setting up an online banking account. The traditional Marketscore setup had client traffic sent to their proxies which was then forwarded to the intended site. This made it easy for us to track customers with "compromised" machines (Marketscore would never admit to compromising anything).

Lately (last 1 or 2 weeks), we noticed in our server logs that connection attempts from Marketscore proxies suddenly dropped to nothing (from 100's to 0). After some investigation, we learned that the new Marketscore spyware now installs its proxy locally on the user's machine. It accumulates data in a local cache which is then sent back to Marketscore for their anaylsis. Because of this, we can no longer filter compromised machines running Marketscore shitware. Of course there's the other garbage like secretly installing their own root cert on the victim's machine, harder detection by anti-spyware programs, etc.

Yes, maybe the user knows the benefits (and the world of hurt) they can expect from using this software...but what about the banks (or other businesses) who are actively trying to protect its customers? We're still trying to figure out how to deal with this on our side while individually informing the affected customers.

Depends...Trust US. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310618)

"Yes, maybe the user knows the benefits (and the world of hurt) they can expect from using this software...but what about the banks (or other businesses) who are actively trying to protect its customers? We're still trying to figure out how to deal with this on our side while individually informing the affected customers."

Gee, what do you know? Sounds like the user needs some kind of system that will authenticate everything on their system, from hardware to software, establishing a web of trust. One which spyware will not be a part of.

Re:Depends... (1)

Urusai (865560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310697)

Malware is malware...don't prevaricate in the face of evil.

Choice (5, Interesting)

mfh (56) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310021)

The beef I have with spyware is that it's never given me a choice; it installs without me knowing and lurks like a drooling Rutterkin in the corner -- waiting for me to spill my drink or drop The One Ring. But this research program is optional, right?

I have no problem with optional programs that record data to be used in a study. My wife also participates in allgery studies. So?

Re:Choice (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310046)

"The beef I have with spyware is that it's never given me a choice..."

"Mr. Bond, we didn't invite you here!"

Re:Choice (1)

Unnngh! (731758) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310078)

Well, 'research' may really just be the same type of marketing 'research' that regular spyware companies do, and sell. The above-boards approach sits a lot better on my stomach though than gator software silently installing itself in the background. I don't think that the anti-spyware groups should flag it as spyware--you presumably know what this one's doing when you download and install it. Maybe just flag it as a warning?

Choice Degrades Data Validity (2, Interesting)

rewinn (647614) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310263)

To the extent that something forthrightly discloses what it does and offers the choice to opt-in (...and to opt-out later easily if one changes one's mind ...), the validity of the data is compromised.

There's nothing *wrong* with giving people the choice of providing information in exchange for an incentive (... I participate in surveys & studies all the time ...) but it is not unlikely that as a result, the sample becomes non-representative (except of itself.)

How likely is it that the genders differ in their willingnes to risk giving away personal information, such as keystrokes that may disclose physical address? I would not trust gender statistics for web usage at all, except for indicating the gender of people who don't worry much about strangers learning their meatspace location.

It may be that some data about semi-anonymous servces such as the web is impossible to get. As Johnny Cash sings, "I don't like it, but I guess things happen that way!"

Re:Choice Degrades Data Validity (2, Insightful)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310377)

oh well, then they should try to make the best of their invalid data. their right to valid data can't trump their subjects' right to privacy, period.

Oh boy (3, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310023)

Well, that story had all the right buzzwords to get the pitchforks wavin!

Excuse me... (1)

isny (681711) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310117)

Which way to the riot?

I love ComScore Networks anti-virus utility (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310026)

It optimized my system and prevented broadcast of my IP address TO THE WORLD! I just love installing utilities online. Especially from domains that look like marketing firms.

With a name like that.... (2, Funny)

thegoofeedude (771803) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310033)

With a name like ScamCore, er, ConScore, woops, I mean ComScore, no wonder people are suspicious!

Antivirus software, huh? (5, Funny)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310037)

Isn't that sort of app supposed to be CHECKING for trojans? Sheesh.

Re:Antivirus software, huh? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310229)

Takes one to know one.

spyware (noun) (5, Insightful)

weighn (578357) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310050)

any software that covertly gathers information about a user while he/she navigates the Internet and transmits the information to an individual or company that uses it for marketing or other purposes - http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=spyware

The software watches not only sites visited, but even locations of the mouse clicks.
add the use of the word "lure" and it makes me think that this is, indeed, spyware.

What's to think about? (4, Interesting)

GoodbyeBlueSky1 (176887) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310051)

as the article states, anti-spyware utility manufacturers are still thinking whether to include it on their list.
How would this not be spyware, exactly? It's not like this "research" will cure cancer.

Re:What's to think about? (2, Insightful)

Spiffae (707428) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310084)

How would this not be spyware, exactly? It's not like this "research" will cure cancer.

If it's not curing cancer it's not research? I'm not sure about that...might want to check your sources.

Re:What's to think about? (4, Insightful)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310161)

It doesn't at all meet the commonly accepted definition of spyware [wikipedia.org] . If it were bundled as part of some other software and you didn't know about it, sure, that's very spyware and scummy. But to get this program you have to explicitly go to their web site and choose to install this one program that's very explicit about what it does. If you're not tricked, lied to or treated in any way dishonestly, there's no way you can consider it spyware. Go look at the page and tell me how they "trick" you. There are seven sentences of normal size type in the body of that page (and three headers) and one of those seven sentences explicitly states:

"In exchange for having their Internet browsing and purchasing activity observed, members have access to free email virus scanning and other benefits."

If that page "tricked" you, turn off your computer now and back away.

Solution (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310056)

Here's the damn solution include it.

They all pop up a list of software reporting your usage, this list is hand culled by the user.

By not including it they lose some moral authority.

Well, doh! (1, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310057)

anti-spyware utility manufacturers are still thinking whether to include it on their list."

It takes information without my knowing or permission and steals my bandwidth to send it somewhere. It's spyware. Next question?

Re:Well, doh! (4, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310147)

It takes information without my knowing or permission and steals my bandwidth to send it somewhere.

I know it's not hip to RTFA, but it doesn't install without your knowing or permission. It clearly states that you will allow the program to monitor your internet usage in exchange for the free antivirus software. It's easy to uninstall and doesn't leave its hooks all over the OS.

Stealing your bandwidth? If you consent to installing it, that hardly constitutes theft.

Re:Well, doh! (4, Interesting)

complete loony (663508) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310514)

Ah, but lots of software that clearly state in their EULA's that they collect and submit information are also considered spyware. Yes they said it on their web page, but in a PR friendly way, most people will read it and not think about the privacy implications. Remember most people will give away their identity for the chance to win a chocolate bar.

Re:Well, doh! (1)

Florian Weimer (88405) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310713)

It clearly states that you will allow the program to monitor your internet usage in exchange for the free antivirus software.

"Monitor your Internet usage" sounds a bit too harmless. Among other things, they eavesdrop on your online banking sessions (including your authentication credentials) and analyze your financial transactions. Consequently, quite a few banks filter access from the MarketScore SSL proxies (yes, they carry out a MITM attack on SSL, by installing new root certificates). However, this provides only limited protection to customers because MarketScore can switch to more stealthy eavesdropping schemes.

post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310063)

first post!

If you give choice, there's no research (5, Interesting)

nigham (792777) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310064)

Unfortunately, if they give the users a choice to turn it off, you can't qualify the statistics obtained from users who allow information to be logged as good - e.g. who's to say whether guys may be more inclined to turn it off than girls - or conversely, women feel more threatened about privacy... in either case your stats will be skewed.

In any case most users (myself, certainly) would turn it off - I am supremely uncomfortable with some random company knowing anything about what I do on my computer.

Re:If you give choice, there's no research (1)

erikharrison (633719) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310320)

This is horseshit.

There is no 100% representative sample. You just do some research to determine who doesn't participate.

For example, I recently presented a paper at a psychology conference. When I presented my research, I offered up my sample - mostly female, all culled from undergraduate psych courses, a majority not psych majors, between ages 19 and 42.

There is no reason my data is only relevent to this sample, though there is always the possibility that, in fact, there is a subtle selection bias. So, my research can be presented as being relatively valid.

These guys also only select people who use their AV software, thus skewing their data again. The question is if that bias matters. It may well not.

Re:If you give choice, there's no research (1)

nigham (792777) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310390)

You just do some research to determine who doesn't participate.

Friend, what we're talking about is a program that allows a choice to be turned off. If the results are reported, they'd have to be reported as "nnn people came to this website, 50% of which allowed gender tracking, out of which 80% were male." Thats FINE, and says that 40 out of 100 said they were male, 10 said they were female, 50 we don't know. What is skewed research is claiming that 80% of website visitors are male - based on the 50% who allowed their gender to be tracked.

Re:If you give choice, there's no research (1)

WoBIX (819410) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310325)

If you give choice, there's no research?

Lucky for us you're not running the FDA. I've been in a clinical drug trial before and you have to fill out surveys, knowing you're taking part. Those surveys are used to collect data on everything from the side effects, to how many times a day you eat, defecate, watch the Simpsons (how long you sit on your ass), etc.

There's a really simple way to make sure that you get fairly accurate results on surveys or market research... don't offer incentives.

People will lie their asses off to get free stuff. You can be honest and give someone a survey with no benefit to them and you'll get mostly honest answers back.

Re:If you give choice, there's no research (1)

nigham (792777) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310374)

Lucky for us you're not running the FDA. Yeah, I sure hope the FDA has a slightly more expansive policy than one paragraph. Come on. Drug trials are (for the most part) targeted at a general human populace, with expected responses being quite similar across the board. And when they're not, as you say, they pay people of the right background to participate in surveys. Nobody's paying anybody here... its just a program that installs on your computer.

Re:If you give choice, there's no research (2, Insightful)

dvdeug (5033) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310468)

in either case your stats will be skewed.

There are strict disclosure rules that psychologists have to follow before they can do a test with human subjects. It doesn't matter if your results will be skewed by warning them that they will be dumped in a vat of maggots, you still have to tell them. The rights of people to choose is more important than your right to gather information about them.

Re:If you give choice, there's no research (2, Insightful)

zambuka (301663) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310652)

Knowing the type of people that won't participate in such an experiment is just as important as the final reactions of the people who will participate.

Thats what makes the difference between a good psych project and "just a bunch of wierdo's dunking people in nasty gunk"

No... (4, Insightful)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310098)

Unless it starts getting buried as part of other installs, it's not spyware. They're very upfront about what they do. There's very little text on the linked page, and one paragraph (of three) reads in the same size type as the other text:

Marketscore is part of an online market research community with over 2 million members worldwide. Marketscore relies on its members to gain valuable insight into Internet trends and behavior. In exchange for having their Internet browsing and purchasing activity observed, members have access to free email virus scanning and other benefits.

You have to draw the line of reasonableness somewhere. If that site isn't clear enough for you to understand what they do, you probably shouldn't be on the Internet (or at least not from a computer configuration you could hurt yourself with).

Re:No... (1)

Tuxedo Jack (648130) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310362)

As I recall, Marketscore also sends SSL traffic through its servers, decrypting it, sending it, then re-encrypting it to gain speed.

http://www.spywareinfo.com/newsletter/archives/1 20 4/1.php

When Lavasoft rates it as a ten out of ten threat rating, I'll start to get worried - oh, wait, they DID.

I've Heard This Line Before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310122)

"ComScore swears the final data does not contain any personal information..."

This reminds me of those spam messages in which the spammer swears "this is not spam."

Talk is cheap.

Macs (4, Insightful)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310141)


This tool then is cutting out the Mac and Linux users from their tracked demographic; together those users represent about 5-10% of the market. And they represent many early adopters of tech, too.

I would think that the use of a tool of this kind would be enough to skew their information, causing any results to be not credible. I certainly wouldn't use them to research products that I would sell, as I would want to be able to target Mac and Linux users as well.

Re:Macs (1)

Mishura (744815) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310469)

You have a point, however isn't the Mac/Linux/Unix demographics against being spied on or monitored by outside forces, period?

Here's a question: If this software was released for GNU/Linux (but instead of Anti-virus scanning as the benefit, something like a rootkit detector, or other unix-y malware scanner), would people install it then? Then again, how many would say "fsck that" and go and compile the latest F/OSS version without the monitoring/spying?

I'm willing to bet something like this would be chased away with pitchforks and torches from the Linux community.

As far as the Mac community... anything goes. They probably have the same stance about spyware as the rest of us. Voluntary or not.

well.. (1)

Pinefresh (866806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310143)

the way I see it, if it has a legit use (virus scan) and it let's the user know that it will be doing this. Then even though it may be spyware, it's still acceptable, that's a trade off. but it's still not a valid tool for determining a demographic, since only a certain demographic will download it to begin with.

Oh, come on.. (3, Insightful)

proteonic (688830) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310163)

Let's see.. I need an antivirus utility.
What shall it be?
Mcaffee.. no
Norton.. no
AVG..no
Oh, wait! Here's one! Marketscore! That sounds reputable! I've never heard of them before, so they must be good, because they stay out of the "eviil media".
--end scathing sarcasm--

The people "lured" into downloading this utility should probably also have their right to vote restricted for lack of ability to critically process information.

And, by the way, if you've feel vicitmized by this software, I have news for you.. they've recently changed the definition of gullible in the dictionary.

Interpret that however you please.

If it looks like a duck.... (2, Insightful)

jadenite (871118) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310166)

quacks like a duck, and smells like a duck, then it must be...spyware seriously, people how cn you record where the mouse is clicked on my screen, and what sites I am visiting without being spyware. Saying that there is no personal information logged sounds like splitting hairs to me. This program should definitely be on the spyware list.

MarketScore is included on the Black Hole DNS List (3, Informative)

csk_1975 (721546) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310186)

anti-spyware utility manufacturers are still thinking whether to include it on their list

If you use the blackhole dns list [bleedingsnort.com] of spyware domains from bleedingsnort.com its already included based on this submission [doxdesk.com] from doxdesk. Squid ACLs are a great way to stop these parasites and you don't have to wait for anti-spyware manufacturers to decide whether its spyware or not. Also ClamAV [clamav.net] lets you create your own signatures so you can setup rules to detect anything you consider to be spyware.

anything that's not obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310195)

Anything questionable in the spyware area that's not super obvious during the install, is spyware in my book. I definitely want the anti-spyware ppl to add that kind of thing to the list of ones to get rid of.

Free anit-virus? (4, Informative)

W8TVI (547517) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310201)

Why not just download AVG Anti-virus [grisoft.com] ?
Its free, and has no spyware attached.

Re:Free anit-virus? (1)

oldwolf13 (321189) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310344)

I don't think it's free anymore... went to download it today for my mom's computer and all I could find was either pay, or a 30 day trial (the main download section goes to the pay version).

This seems to have happened since 7.0 came out, which, by the way, they FORCED the upgrade of (6 and below do not work at all it seems). (AVG used to be free for non commercial use, BTW).

AVG used to be (IMO) the best AV around, quite a few times caught things the other bigger names didn't. Now, I find them average, if not a bit below. Couple this with the forced upgrade/purchase has made me decided to look elsewhere.

Then again, since I was using a free version, maybe they don't care if they lose a type of customer such as myself :)

Re:Free anit-virus? (2, Informative)

Kevinv (21462) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310368)

It's still available:

http://free.grisoft.com/doc/1

Re:Free anit-virus? (2, Informative)

Mishura (744815) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310496)

AVG is still Free/beer. (See other guy's post below mine or beside it for link) You just have to look for it on their website.

ClamWin (based on ClamAV for Linux) is Free/libre Opensource and GPL'd if you prefer that. I haven't used it (Still using AVG) but I am considering trying it out myself.

Re:Free anit-virus? (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310703)

You just gotta look a little harder

http://free.grisoft.com/doc/2/lng/us/tpl/v5 [grisoft.com]

Linked off the first hit on google for "free antivirus"

of course they say its spyware (4, Insightful)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310216)

Symantec, for example, designates the program as spyware on its Web site.

A major antivirus company saying a free anitvirus program is spyware, that should raise a few red flags right there.

Re:of course they say its spyware (4, Insightful)

vga_init (589198) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310338)

Well, what is spyware? In my mind, it's a piece of software that harvests data from your computer and sends it to someone else for their own personal uses without your explicit knowledge or consent.

By my definition, that makes the program in the article spyware.

You're right in suggesting that Symantec may have an ulterior motive, but there exists (what appears to me) the unfortunate fact that the software actually is spyware. It may be a coincidence, or Symantec may have checked specifically on competing software, but they aren't misreporting anything.

Black (because I like the color red and black seems more appropriate) flags would go up if a) Symantec lied about the software being spyware, or b) Symantec held a policy that only classified that software as spyware because it was competing with them, letting similar, non-competing programs go by unchecked.

Re:of course they say its spyware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310448)

They don't say Antivir or AVG are spyware and both of those are free. If there was something else going on I would think those would be flagged as well but they are not.

So... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310248)

Does this mean that more men download firefox, or more men download this spyware?

Just don't (1)

ananegg (772033) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310303)

Just Don't Download it, If your stupided enough to do so, you deserve the Spyware.

Knowing where I'm clicking is one thing, but (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310304)

"Security professionals say ComScore dangerously slurps up all manner of personal information, including passwords for online banking services."

Is the single scariest thing I've read, barring the end of the world that will result from the release of Longhorn.

And
ComScore officials said the sensitive data is never at risk.

"We establish two secure communications. One with you, and one with the bank," Lin said.

Is the third sariest. Of course the data is at risk, an information research company has your internet banking password, for crying out load! No one should ever have that.
Besides you.
And the bank has to have an ecrypted copy to check it against.
But that's all.
How secure is the network of a company that sells information going to be compared to a Bank?

Mind you most people will be using windows at home, so most banking passwords are being collected through vulnerabilities at that end anyway.

Bad Statistics (2, Insightful)

Morrog (706170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310308)

Anyone remember that common example of bad stats? Some survey was taken by calling people randomly. What's wrong with it? You're excluding everyone without a phone (which is now rare, but the poor didn't have them when this survey was done). Isn't this exactly the same? You're excluding everyone without spyware. Hey, maybe males are more likely to get spyware on their computers than females?

Re:Bad Statistics (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310593)

In other news, they found that 99.9% of the people running their spyware were .. stupid.

Can They Collect Data On ... (3, Insightful)

rewinn (647614) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310404)

... whether people who voluntarily install their program understand that they are agreeing never to shop or bank online with decent security ever again?

It's one thing to warn someone "If you install our software, we'll monitor your net behavior".

It's entirely another thing to say "If you install our software, you'll be relying on us never to collect your credit card number, bank password, or the birthdate/mother's name information we'd need to empty your bank account ... and you're relying on us never to be hacked."

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310419)

...Sharman Networks have packaged antispyware software with KaZaA.

Spyware for gender resolution? (1)

Centurix (249778) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310434)

I don't need no stinking spyware to find that out for me, I just use the user agent to help me with that. Everyone knows that real men use Linux.

Research Methods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310457)

Not only does this study not include Mac or Linux users, but it really only gives useful information about the people who chose to install the program on their computers. Perhaps men are more likely than women to install the program, which would then skew their data heavily in favor of males using firefox. As it stands, the "research" is quite useless for generalizing to the population because an entirely different sample of people would even consider installing this thing. However, it isn't spyware because the user knows what they're getting into and it's not sneaky about what it claims to do.

Marketscore has been around for a while (4, Interesting)

assassinator42 (844848) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310464)

It started out being marketed as a way to "speed up" web browing, much like AOL is advertising with "Top Speed" now. According to the article, they even have access to encrypted connections. It also says that your passwords and stuff are visible to them. This isn't good, and they don't really state up front that they do this. I believe marketscore has been considered spyware for a while by some people. Also, the program they give you in exchange only scans emails, or so it appears. Definentaly not worth it.

They should tagged... (1)

jromz03 (686423) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310568)

They should've mentioned it on their website what exactly they collect. Not just bury it in their EULA.

Who knows what other kind of monitoring trojans they have in there.

Time To Bring Back Whipping (1)

cannuck (859025) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310570)

Although I am typically opposed to corporal punishment - I'm all in favour of bringing it back for people who spy on me (and others) through the internet. Maybe a hundred lashes a day for a week would smarten these people up;) Would like to get a list of the companies who are using this data.

'Lure' is a loaded term... (3, Insightful)

One Childish N00b (780549) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310585)

This is going to nuke my karma to all Hell, but what the hey...

A lot of Slashdotters are, as usual, not RTFA/web page in question and assuming that this is the usual spyware trick of clandestinely trojanised software pretending to be a legitimate tool - allow me to explain;

The word 'lure' used in the summary is a loaded term - it implies (in the context the editors used) that they are somehow using this free AntiVirus tool as a means of covertly installing spyware - This company is simply offering a free antivirus product if you accept the *up front agreement* that their little utility can spy on your web browsing habits - they're not doing anything clandestine here, they're just offering their service to you for free, so they can sell the results on to advertisers to recoup costs;

From the company's website:
In exchange for having their Internet browsing and purchasing activity observed, members have access to free email virus scanning and other benefits.

This is just a new way of offering a product - "here, you can have this for free, but in exchange you've got to give us stuff we can sell to our avertisers" (though they promise not to sell personal info, so presumably they'll just be selling 'web trends' data) or rather, it's the same way that a lot of so-called 'adware' operates, only they're rarely this up-front.

Sure, it's spyware, but the text above is located right on their front page, is in easily-understandable English, and is not hidden, obscured of obfusicated in any way - if people want to give their permission for Marketscore to monitor their browsing in exchange for free software, who are /. to stop them? If you're concerned about web privacy, don't download it, but it's not like they're trying to trick anyone here.

Re:'Lure' is a loaded term... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310741)

It's hardly a "new" way of offering a product... KaZaA has been using the same bullshit technicality to shovel Gator/GAIN/Claria onto peoples' PCs for ages now.

I think it should be okay if... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310642)

... they made the software open source and available for scrutiny on a source like Sourceforge. More than that, the install should be clean and easy-in and easy-out.

It would make the thing have a better chance as being used for legitimate research and a better chance and being trusted.

The whole problem with traditional spyware is that it is often installed in deceptive or undetected ways, that it is difficult to remove and even goes so far as to damage things such as AV software to prevent its removal. Legitimate researchware would not have those characteristics.

can't access it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12310645)

my university banned the marketscore website... i guess that says enough about the website itself. no such thing as researchware.

I do not think it means what you think it means (1)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310651)

Hmmm. I wonder... so does the study then indicate that primarily men use Firefox, or does the study actually indicate that primarily men install antivirus protection? Or both, for a double whammy of a skewed number?

It is still spyware (2, Informative)

aggles (775392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12310721)

Just because you know it a piece of code is spying on you doesn't stop it from being spyware. James Bond was still a spy, even when Goldfinger knew who he was. The threat comes to others who may use the machine without knowing the spyware is running. Companies buy Comscore information and actually believe it represents normal people. No wonder so many Web sites suck -aggles
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