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A Day in the Life of a Spyware Company

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the get-rich-quick-schemes dept.

215

prostoalex writes "Business Week has a detailed expose of Direct Revenue. The article has some juicy details on the everyday workings of a spyware outlet, talks about the the business model and advertisers who funnel cash to Direct Revenue, and even mentions Direct Revenue's anti-spyware achievements (the company's installer blasted away competing spyware apps, so that the user's computer wouldn't be overwhelmed with redundant pop-ups)."

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215 comments

Dupe (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686020)


even the link is the same

http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/07/155 1237 [slashdot.org]

now enjoy re-hashing the same arguments over and over

Windows sucks, get a mac/linux yadda yadda yadda

Dupe: First Paragraph of Each (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686149)

even the link is the same

Yes [slashdot.org] , here's some physical proof to save you all some time, but note the slight difference (you will see it because its the only bold text).

BusinessWeek [businessweek.com] : ( JULY 17, 2006)
Consumers have strong opinions about Direct Revenue's software. "If I ever meet anyone from your company, I will kill you," a person who identified himself as James Chang said in an e-mail to Direct Revenue last summer. "I will f------ kill you and your families." Such sentiments aren't unusual. "You people are EVIL personified," Kevin Horton wrote around the same time. "I would like the four hours of my life back I have wasted trying to get your stupid uninvited software off my now crippled system."

MSNBC [msn.com] : ( Updated: 5:51 p.m. CT July 7, 2006 )
Consumers have strong opinions about Direct Revenue's software. "If I ever meet anyone from your company, I will kill you," a person who identified himself as James Chang said in an e-mail to Direct Revenue last summer. "I will f------ kill you and your families." Such sentiments aren't unusual. "You people are EVIL personified," Kevin Horton wrote around the same time. "I would like the four hours of my life back I have wasted trying to get your stupid uninvited software off my now crippled system."

The text is exactly the same, only the date is different. Seems like this cover story that was either launched too early or it was an unintentional error. No big news here.

Re:Dupe (-1, Troll)

r3st2 (987153) | about 8 years ago | (#15686207)

Why get a mac? So you can have a "pretty" desktop? Thats about all a mac is.

Re:Dupe (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686246)

Why get a mac? So you can have a "pretty" desktop? Thats about all a mac is.


Please mods, mod the parent as it deserves.

Re:Dupe (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686275)

That comment almost made you spit your latte out over your PowerBook at Starbucks, didn't it?

Re:Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686668)

I don't agree:

Complain to the companies that advertise with these methods. If you see an ad for Delta airlines, write them a letter complaining. Bitching to the advertising company is useless because they don't care... they're getting paid from someone else. Now the companies advertising through them are getting paid from you... and they will listen eventually.

Also, use a router, firewall software, Antivirus, and Firefox. Haven't any issues ever.

Believe it or not, companies really do read their snail mail. I have gotten more for my $0.39 than I ever could have gotten through e-mail or even telephone calls. If you feel passionately about this, e-mail me [mailto]. I am interested in starting a group to pressure people to stop advirtising this way.

Cancelling out (0, Redundant)

ntufar (712060) | about 8 years ago | (#15686024)

and even mentions Direct Revenue's anti-spyware achievements (the company's installer blasted away competing spyware apps, so that the user's computer wouldn't be overwhelmed with redundant pop-ups)

So there is a war of spyware applications against other spyware applications. Would be nice to install two spware application with this technology so that they would cancel out each other.

What, me worry? (2, Funny)

CurtMonash (986884) | about 8 years ago | (#15686228)

Spy vs. Spy!

Resolving the references in the title and content of this comment is an exercise left to the reader ...

Re:What, me worry? (1)

Carthag (643047) | about 8 years ago | (#15686626)

I have no idea what you're talking about, but maybe Fester Bestertester does, try asking him.

Dupe (-1, Offtopic)

FooGoo (98336) | about 8 years ago | (#15686026)

Dupe Dupe

Dupe of Earl? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686109)

Man, you gotta sing it like this:

"Dupe, dupe, dupe,
Dupe of Earl, dupe, dupe..."

Yes, its OT. I don't care. It's funny.

Re:Dupe of Earl? (1)

dlb (17444) | about 8 years ago | (#15686771)

If you have to remind us that it should be funny, then it wasn't funny.

-1

oh, I wouldn't be talking about redundancy (5, Funny)

bunions (970377) | about 8 years ago | (#15686028)

http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/07/155 1237 [slashdot.org]

It's the same article in a different place.

Additionally, it's in a different place, but it's the same article.

Re:oh, I wouldn't be talking about redundancy (1)

dontbgay (682790) | about 8 years ago | (#15686529)

This comment brought to you by the Department of Redundancy... Department.

"Anti-spyware Achievements"? (5, Interesting)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | about 8 years ago | (#15686030)

"and even mentions Direct Revenue's anti-spyware achievements (the company's installer blasted away competing spyware apps, so that the user's computer wouldn't be overwhelmed with redundant pop-ups)."

The crack dealer on one side of the street achieved a victory against crime today when he killed the competing dealer on the other side.

I very much doubt that their reasons for blasting away competing apps were for the benefit of the user. Most likely, they don't want the user's computer to slow down enough for them to notice and do a spyware sweep.

Re:"Anti-spyware Achievements"? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686041)

No, they did it so that users are more likely to click their popups rather than someone else's.

Re:"Anti-spyware Achievements"? (3, Insightful)

QuantumFTL (197300) | about 8 years ago | (#15686175)

I think the word achievement is very apropos in this context (as, like many other english words, it has multiple possible meanings/connotations) - they developed a considerable amount of technology, both to disable other spyware, and to prevent their spyware from being likewise removed. This is a signficant achievement, one which was in no small part a reason for their success. It can be recognized as such when readers isolate their analytical mind from their moral repugnance.

Also do remember that they are in the business of making money, not of causing problems for the user (that, to them, is merely an unfortunate side effect) - likely some people at that job slept easier knowing at least their software did one useful thing.

Re:"Anti-spyware Achievements"? (1)

l3v1 (787564) | about 8 years ago | (#15686336)

for blasting away competing apps were for the benefit of the user. Most likely

Uhmm, maybe that's why nobody said that they did it for benefiting the users ? Killing competition and generating revenue was their goal, I don't think anybody ever doubted that.

slashdot giving us the spyware experience (4, Funny)

atarione (601740) | about 8 years ago | (#15686031)

by spamming this story multiple times

Re:slashdot giving us the spyware experience (1)

notanatheist (581086) | about 8 years ago | (#15686139)

you forgot: 4: re-read Slashdot. This way when you click the link to the story those advertisers get more money too. 5: Everybody profits!

Missing important details (4, Funny)

arivanov (12034) | about 8 years ago | (#15686032)

Latitude, longitude, altitude.

Re:Missing important details (5, Informative)

Metrol (147060) | about 8 years ago | (#15686158)

Not so. Just have to dig a bit into the court records provided publicly. Here's the PDF [state.ny.us] of the court document.

It shows the address of these folks on page 2 as 107 Grand Street, New York, NY [google.com] . Pulling up Google Earth it looks like you can find these folks at 40 deg 43'15.8N 74 deg 00'04.9W.

Not that I would suggest anything as childish as signing these folks up for free advertisements or any such thing. Just seems like since these folks are digging through everyone else's privacy I'm sure they wouldn't mind having their company address a matter of well known public record.

Re:Missing important details (2, Funny)

xLittleP (987772) | about 8 years ago | (#15686664)

And it says on page 4 that their office is on the fourth floor, so there's your altitude.

Re:Missing important details (1)

teh_dg (800496) | about 8 years ago | (#15686674)

Isnt the registered office address of any company a matter of public record in the US?

In the UK all limited liability companies have their registered office listed for the public record at Companies House [companieshouse.gov.uk] (curiously only available from Monday to Saturday 07:00 - 12 Midnight UK Time).

Granted it's only their legal address and not necessarily where anyone goes on a daily basis (a lot of really small companies use their accountants address) and I think there are some exceptions made e.g. for animal testing companies who are subjected to violent activists.

Re:Missing important details (2, Funny)

Millenniumman (924859) | about 8 years ago | (#15686797)

Does Linux have any drivers for precision guided cruise missiles?

Re:Missing important details (2, Funny)

Kazymyr (190114) | about 8 years ago | (#15686185)

And thickness of concrete walls, if any.

Re:Missing important details (5, Funny)

QuantumFTL (197300) | about 8 years ago | (#15686197)

Latitude, longitude, altitude.

This is Slashdot - all we really need is their IP address :)

Re:Missing important details (1)

pangu (322010) | about 8 years ago | (#15686595)

Yeah, we'd have to leave our parent's basement otherwise.

Re:Missing important details (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686677)

Contact information and geographic location can be confirmed at:
http://www.direct-revenue.com/privacy.php [direct-revenue.com]

whois direct-revenue.com:

Registrant:
  Thinking Media LP
  275 Madison Avenue
  New York, NY 10016
  US

  Domain name: DIRECT-REVENUE.COM

  Administrative Contact:
        Services, Reg. domain@thinkingmedia.net
        275 Madison Avenue
        New York, NY 10016
        US
        +1.8668396164
  Technical Contact:
        Services, Reg. domain@thinkingmedia.net
        275 Madison Avenue
        New York, NY 10016
        US
        +1.8668396164

nslookup direct-revenue.com
Name: DIRECT-REVENUE.COM
Address: 204.16.121.20

Have a nice day.

Re:Missing important details (2, Informative)

Van Cutter Romney (973766) | about 8 years ago | (#15686773)

www.direct-revenue.com is 204.16.121.20 Let's /. them...

Ooh... (0, Redundant)

zptao (979069) | about 8 years ago | (#15686038)

Clearing other spyware apps away? That's a new one...

how to stop them in 3 easy steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686039)


find executives
kill them (or pay a crackhead to do it)
rejoice

if execs feared for their lives this kind of thing wouldnt happen
society really would be better off

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (5, Insightful)

QuantumFTL (197300) | about 8 years ago | (#15686052)

How to stop them in three easy steps:

find executives
kill them (or pay a crackhead to do it)
rejoice


Thus illustrating the old saying "for every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong." When it becomes OK to kill anyone that does something you don't like, it also becomes equally possible that others will kill you when you do something they don't care for. But of course you're a good enough troll to know that already.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (4, Insightful)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | about 8 years ago | (#15686071)

Thus illustrating the old saying "for every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong." When it becomes OK to kill anyone that does something you don't like, it also becomes equally possible that others will kill you when you do something they don't care for. But of course you're a good enough troll to know that already.


And for every truth, there's a way to simplify it to the point of idiocy. When someone's doing something that causes you a significant amount of hardship and is making money doing it, they aren't just "doing something you don't like".

That said, I think killing them would be a bit harsh (unless the spyware managed to lock up a computer doing something truly important, but taking a two-by-four to some non-vital parts of their body would be appropriate. That's about what most people would do to an adult they caught vandalizing their car.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (0)

Umbral Blot (737704) | about 8 years ago | (#15686090)

Reading your ill-thought out response caused me pain and mental hardship, not to mention that it wasted my precious time. Thus by your own logic I am justified in taking the law into my own hands and beating you with a 2x4. Good call!

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | about 8 years ago | (#15686119)

Did it cause you a significant amount of hardship, comparable to what the average person would have if their computer were disabled for a few days or their car was vandalized? Did you have to hire someone to fix something that no longer worked, or take an hour to do it youself?

Try reading the post again, without skipping words, because you aren't arguing against something that I said.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (0)

smidget2k4 (847334) | about 8 years ago | (#15686159)

Did it cause you a significant amount of hardship, comparable to what the average person would have if their computer were disabled for a few days or their car was vandalized? Did you have to hire someone to fix something that no longer worked, or take an hour to do it youself?

Yes.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 8 years ago | (#15686552)

Well, if they were doing it in response to you installing spyware on 100 million computers, I seriously doubt that any jury in North America (that hasn't been living in a cave for the last decade) will convict you for beating them with a 2x4. Heck, if the guy was found with a knife sticking out his back, a dozen bullet wounds with entry from the back, etc, it would quickly be ruled as a suicide.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | about 8 years ago | (#15686191)

And for every truth, there's a way to simplify it to the point of idiocy.

No discussion on /., or otherwise on the net is going to capture the subtle nuances, complex sets of laws and traditions, and the many an varied moral issues dealing with people who could perhaps be considered "mass vandals." So far they haven't put any lives in danger (typically one of the prerequisites for capital punishment, though it varies by state) - they merely cause inconvenience / reversable "damage" to a large number of improperly secured computers. I feel this is reasonably generalized in my previous statement, and stand by my assertion.

Sometimes if you're not going to delve into significant depth (and we are not, this is /.), it's better to deal with more general arguments that require less amounts of specific information. Without this generalization/simplificaiton, no discussion on Slashdot would be remotely possible.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

coats (1068) | about 8 years ago | (#15686632)

...unless the spyware managed to lock up a computer doing something truly important...
That can happen. That has happened with Microsoft's so-called "Windows Genuine Advantage".

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

a_greer2005 (863926) | about 8 years ago | (#15686663)

What if the car that is being vandalised is making a critical delivery for my business or taking a gravly ill relative to the hospital? then can I kill the fucker?

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (2, Insightful)

S3D (745318) | about 8 years ago | (#15686095)

When it becomes OK to kill anyone that does something you don't like, it also becomes equally possible that others will kill you when you do something they don't care for.
However when it become OK to kill someone all the population don't like it's called rebellion.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686162)

What's this have to do with spammers, exactly?

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (5, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | about 8 years ago | (#15686104)

How about we vote? Me: give him death via organ donation

Long ago I stopped reading email bounce messages. If my email bounces, oh well. It's just lost. I get hundreds of bounces each day for emails that spammers sent in my name.

My email does bounce though, all the time. It bounces because everybody and their dog invents a brutal spam filter, each one differently flawed.

Just today I failed to communicate with somebody. Gmail sends from *.google.com instead of gmail.com, which is enough to bounce and/or silently delete the mail.

Even after filtering, much of the email I get is spam.

Lately, I don't even bother reading email that claims to come from banks that I actually do business with. Figuring out the legitimacy multiple times per day is too time-consuming.

Email is my primary communication method. It has been ruined. I can no longer rely on messages to be delivered and read. This has been a grave loss for me. I'm just one of many. So yes, the spammer should die. Humanity loses too much from this sort of behavior.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686153)

>death via organ donation

Impractical. Tissue matching is hard enough when the donor is human.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | about 8 years ago | (#15686165)

PMITA prison for 20 years should chill some of these guys out... Considering what a big impact this kind of behavior has on our economy, I'm surprised there isn't more action to stop it by our law enforcement officials.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

digitallife (805599) | about 8 years ago | (#15686169)

I think it would be significantly less effort for you to transition to a new email address. This time, don't give it out to anyone you don't trust. Get a throw away address for that and filter/forward it.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (2, Insightful)

Cicero382 (913621) | about 8 years ago | (#15686356)

"think it would be significantly less effort for you to transition to a new email address. This time, don't give it out to anyone you don't trust. Get a throw away address for that and filter/forward it."

Tried that - doesn't work. Why?

Well, a lot of the people I email use Windows (I know, I know) and they are frequently compromised. The attacker gets their email list and Bingo!

Actually it does work, for a while. But then the rot starts and slowly, but surely the spam mounts up again.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | about 8 years ago | (#15686208)

How about we vote? Me: give him death via organ donation.

It's fun to think about these guys being tortured to death for what they do to everyone, but seriously, what you suggest is a far worse punishment than we give to most people convicted of raping children or serial murder, despite being the only western nation that even has the death penalty. Sometimes there are better ways to solve a problem, and I cannot condone capital punishment for nonviolent crimes (even violent crimes are not considered bad enough for that in most of the western world).

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686594)

Jesus Christ, all you have to do is get a new email address. Better yet, 3 of them. One is your spam-me address, which you don't even read but simply delete all the messages once a month; one is a "business" address in case you do online shopping or sign up for discussion boards, etc; the last is your personal address which you only give out to actual human beings. It's not the end of the freaking world.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | about 8 years ago | (#15686610)

How about an ironic punishment by having to fix thousands of spyware infected computers - arrest these fuckers, put them in a room and feed them spyware infected computers and order them to fix them. A machine proved not to be squeaky clean by the owner on return earns, oh, 20 lashes and a night with Hairy Bob. Hairy bob likes company.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | about 8 years ago | (#15686167)

I do believe Dante mentioned these people. The were suposed to have a place reserved on the lowest ring.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | about 8 years ago | (#15686193)

I do believe Dante mentioned these people. The were suposed to have a place reserved on the lowest ring.

We can dream, at least... or maybe if we are even luckier, they will be stuck in a crowded elevator for all of eternity, listening to "It's a small world after all."

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686212)

Killing them may be extreme but I for one am tired of everyone on the planet laying claim to my computer. I bought it and paid for it with my own money. Why is it acceptable for companies to load unwanted software on my machine? It's not just the black hat spammers it's major corporations doing it. They might as well hot wire my car and take it for a drive. And as to all those lovely little agreements we all have to click on to actually use our software what choice do we have? I paid for it and now I have to agree to their use conditions to use the software I just paid for? Just don't use it? Well guess what my nice new machine is a paperweight without software. Oh they are giving me a discount so they can market to me? Well what is the dicount? I'll pay the extra to leave me alone. People need to scream at their Congressmen to stop these unfair use practises. Spyware should be illegal no matter who it's from. Privacy is such a dim memory people are starting to forget there was a time when every company out there didn't know your life story. We're told to guard our personal information yet everyone is demanding it if we are going to buy from them or use their website. Identity thieft is common for a reason. In the old days your bank the government and your employer had your SS#. Now everyone wants it so it's everywhere. Never give it to anyone? You don't have to the ones that have it are happy to provide it to others. Already 50% or more of my e-mails are from spammers claiming to be companies like Paypal demanding my personal information. tens of billions are being lost to scammers and yet little is done to stop it. Trust me if Haliburton was scammed for tens of billions the government would move heaven and earth to stop the practise. It's about priorities and the average citizen isn't a priority.

Re:how to stop them in 3 easy steps (1)

SharpFang (651121) | about 8 years ago | (#15686493)

Let us imagine a scenario: A single spam mail is a minor inconvenience. Like a pin stuck in your body in a random place.
Not such a big problem, isn't it? Not even a reason for lawsuit.
But if someone pinned 10,000 such pins in your body, that would be considered a murder with extreme cruelty.
Except if the pins are distributed over 10.000 people. For each of them it will be a minor inconvenience.
But now multiply the number of people who pin these pins in. Say, you get 200. This hurts like hell. You can barely move. But each of these who put them in, put only one, a minor harmless case... So the moment half the population of Earth gets killed by 10000 pins each, there is still no guilty. Each of them was only putting one harmless pin into body of their victims.

3 different steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686107)

Alternative method (more fun: involves more killing)

1) Find all stupid users that install spyware
2a) Kill them
2b) Spyware companies no longer have a source of income and give up
3) Rejoice

You could also replace 2a) with 'Educate them' but that's a lot more difficult, time-consuming and far less fun.

thts right (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686050)

wht else you can get by spywares?
http://www.secgeeks.com/ [secgeeks.com]

Hmm. (4, Funny)

AndreiK (908718) | about 8 years ago | (#15686051)

So if you run their program and their competitor's program at the same time, they will kill each other off? Who needs virus scanners now?

Re:Hmm. (2, Funny)

LazyDino (982072) | about 8 years ago | (#15686066)

Linux users! They can't benefit from this antagonism ;)

Re:Hmm. (1)

bmo (77928) | about 8 years ago | (#15686174)

"Linux users! They can't benefit from this antagonism ;)"

Hey, I didn't even know that DirectRevenue even existed except for this dupe (I missed the original).

I am torn. Vista is supposedly going to have better security (heh) than XP (chuckle) and I'm sort of rooting for it to be successful in that regard if simply to put the malware and spyware hosers out of "bidness." But then we're talking "Microsoft" and "security" in the same sentence, like some other poster mentioned "Ethics Department of Sudan." Microsoft will market Vista being the "most secure Windows ever" in spite of the fact that we'll probably see more of the likes of DirectRevenue than less.

By this time next year, I'll probably still be fixing friends' shitware infected Vista systems, if Vista ever comes out.

--
BMO

Re:Hmm. (5, Funny)

bblboy54 (926265) | about 8 years ago | (#15686074)

So if you run their program and their competitor's program at the same time, they will kill each other off? Who needs virus scanners now?

Actually, who needs this? Windows has this feature built right in.

Re:Hmm. (1)

EMiniShark (631279) | about 8 years ago | (#15686289)

Is it just me, or has slashdot become dramatically more fun lately? Must be due to digg 'the idiot sponge' dot com.

thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686056)

thank you spyware , thanks to you , i am using gentoo now.

Well then (4, Interesting)

Dread Pirate Shanks (860203) | about 8 years ago | (#15686130)

What do the items on this list have in common?

- Cingular Wireless
- Vonage
- Kazaa
- JP Morgan Chase
- Delta
- Travelocity
- Priceline.com

All companies that will no longer have my business, ever. (not that Kazaa would anyways)

I just wish I had the complete list

QA for a spyware company? (5, Funny)

teratogenicbenzene (887723) | about 8 years ago | (#15686142)

Douglas Kee, then Direct Revenue's chief of quality assurance (QA)...

Isn't having a quality assurance branch for a spyware company kind of an oxymoron?
That's like having an "ethics department of sudan" or "NSA oversight committee".

Sigh...

Re:QA for a spyware company? (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | about 8 years ago | (#15686202)

That's like having an "ethics department of sudan" or "NSA oversight committee".

Actually considering how insecure the US has proven to be, I'd say the NSA Oversight Committee must be working overtime!

*ducks*

Re:QA for a spyware company? (1)

l3v1 (787564) | about 8 years ago | (#15686341)

sn't having a quality assurance branch for a spyware company kind of an oxymoron? That's like having an "ethics department of sudan" or "NSA oversight committee".

No, it's not. Quality of a code/sw has nothing to do with the ethical questions the use or the goals of the sw raises.

How can they do this? (1)

r3st2 (987153) | about 8 years ago | (#15686194)

What are they thinking when they go about ruining peoples computers. I feel bad for all the windows users that complain about their computers getting slower. Its probably this companies fault.

The IMPORTANT part of the article: VONAGE! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686241)

For persons concerned about spyware it should be pointed out that the important thing is not the spyware company,

It is the companies which employ them.

The article glosses over that with only slight mention. . .

As a victim of the Aurora trojan on a Windoze box I became intimately aware of Direct Revenue and the damage they have caused to many people. Until this article, however, I always assumed they were supported by pr0n sites and spammers.

Instead it turns out Vonage is their main customer!

It's bad enough that Vonage plasters their annoying ads all over the net, and plays their annoying jingle on every channel of TV. Obviously, though, that is not sufficient. They must also use spyware to hook customers and violate more US and International laws.

Vonage has a history of this type of illegal behavior (in chronological order):

1. Its Chairman, Jeffrey Citron, was charged by the SEC with Securities violations due to illegal trades, while he was Chairman of Datek Securities, before starting Vonage.

2. Vonage has consistently engaged in anticompetitvive behaviour against its competitors by blocking SIP calls, and locking down their devices to prevent customers from using the devices with competitors.

3. Vonage has consistently engaged in deceptive advertising when selling their equipment and services by not disclosing that the equipment is not really owned by the consumer (it can't be unlocked to work with other providers).

4. Vonage has consistently engaged in deceptive marketing by convincing customers to LNP port their existing phone number to Vonage when the LNP port could not be done. Even though Vonage could not port the number due to lack of a CLEC in their area code, Vonage reps would tell the customer it could be done "soon".

5. Vonage deceptively operates a web site at Vonage-Forum.com. Only recently has a notice gone up that the site is not operated by Vonage. The site, however, uses the trademarked Vonage name and logo, and has Vonage ads on it.

6. The whole Vonage IPO stock fiasco: not surprising if you noticed item #1.

If Vonage doesn't qualify for U.S. Federal Prosecution on at least ONE of these items something is clearly wrong with our legal system that supposedly was fixed after Enron/Worldcom.

Re:The IMPORTANT part of the article: VONAGE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686274)

You wouldn't happen to be author20 from digg would you?

http://digg.com/tech_news/The_Plot_To_Hijack_Your_ Computer [digg.com]

Moron

Re:The IMPORTANT part of the article: VONAGE! (1)

MrNougat (927651) | about 8 years ago | (#15686788)

And yet, I'm only paying $25/mo for phone servive, instead of $50+ that I used to pay to the ILEC, using the broadband connection that I had already. I have heard about Vonage's troubles, their IPO problem, the fact that they're still burning cash. Fine. I'll get cheaper phone service while they do so.

Oh, What Hath Marketing Wrought? (0, Troll)

NihilEst (976138) | about 8 years ago | (#15686252)

See, way back when, there was this guy Bill Gates and his company, Microsoft, who invented the market for computer operating systems for people too stupid to run and administer a computer. It was called Windows. "What a great idea!", people said, and the market mushroomed. Gates was a zillionaire overnight.

Fast forward 15 years. Now, seeing the size of this market (TFA says 20 million machines are infected), of course the advertisers (through their overlords, the marketeers) reacted. They tried being nice guys over the years; but even trained monkeys had learned what happens when you pressed that browser button that said "HERE!! FREE SOFTWARE!!". So they got a little more devious, as advertisers are prone to do. When something for nothing doesn't work, there are more subtle ways to grow your market share.

Since Windoze is -- in and of itself -- so lame that it will allow its heavily touted, unique controls (DirectX, for example) to do so many things for all those unsuspecting sops without their having to know anything about what's going on or what they're doing; wouldn't it be natural that people intent on controlling what you see (advertisers) exploit weaknesses in those controls for purposes that even the morons at Microsoft never saw coming?

Just look at how bad MS' TCP/IP implementations have been over the years; holes you can drive a truck through. Even the IP stack in XP still sucks. Microsoft's OS development operations are a textbook case of how not to design, develop, and test operating systems.

The true irony is that the Winidiots are finally imploding. These were the guys who -- back in the day -- ran Wingate (thinking it was a powerful, admin-free firewall), binding all its services to 0.0.0.0, giving spammers and skript kiddiez alike free phony IP addresses and bandwidth behind which they could cause all sorts of mischief. Today, these same losers are threatening to kill people who infect their computers. It's sweet justice, says I: your choice of the same poorly designed, top-secret, commodity OS that the rest of the ignorant mass uses now threatens to turn you into a bonafide criminal (issuing death threats is still against the law).

If you run Windoze, you've done this to yourself. Windows: the OS for idiots invented by idiots. Is it any surprise this should be the most hacked OS on the face of the earth? Nobody except Microsoft knows how it really works, and the devious geniuses out there have figured out how to exploit the mile-wide loopholes MS has left for them to use. If you're a windoze user, there is no longer any way for you to remain free from malware/spyware/virii by modifying your behaviors. And I suppose there are people out there who didn't see this coming. MS sure didn't.

Now, quick: hang the real criminals (the marketeers, advertisers, and Dark Artists) before they learn how to infect the rest of the OSes out there for fun and profit. Hurry: make an example of these scum before anybody else invents any more 'brilliant' advertising paradigms (at least they could patent this shit and sue each other to death, ya know?). At least the Windoze experience won't have been in vain.

Re:Oh, What Hath Marketing Wrought? (4, Insightful)

the_womble (580291) | about 8 years ago | (#15686304)

Bill Gates and his company, Microsoft, who invented the market for computer operating systems for people too stupid to run and administer a computer


They were only copying what Xerox, Apple and others had already done.


If computers could only be used by people who knew how to administer the, then there would be far fewer computers in use. Most people do not want to learn about computers, they are not interested. Ease of use is necessary.


It is also perfectly possible to have an OS that is easy to administer and reasonably secure. I have friends who no absolutely nothing about computers who have no problems with Macs. My father finds Ubuntu easier than Windows (although I initially installed it for him and occasionally give him some help).


It is not ease of use that is the problem. It is bad design, poor implementation and simply not caring about security.

Re:Oh, What Hath Marketing Wrought? (1)

houghi (78078) | about 8 years ago | (#15686480)

If computers could only be used by people who knew how to administer the, then there would be far fewer computers in use.


On the upside there would be much less spam. On the downside, there, ah, uhm, well, I am sure there is a downside somewhere.

Re:Oh, What Hath Marketing Wrought? (4, Interesting)

Orange Goblin (945041) | about 8 years ago | (#15686325)

Jesus, what a load of crap. I run a stable XP box with a combination of a virus scanner and a hardware firewall, and I have no problem with spyware or viruses (you know, the actual plural of virus), and the only time it goes down is when I (rarely) shut it down. The one time I had a problem with spyware that a good dose of Adaware couldn't fix, I just went back to the last system restore point. I don't need to know how Windows "really" works to be able to use it. It's a tool. Do you know how your car really works? Your dishwasher? Your microwave? Could you build one from scratch? You don't need to, as long as you don't crash your car or put your foot through your microwave. Same goes with Windows - don't download stupid crap, and you'll be fine. "Insightful", indeed...

Re:Oh, What Hath Marketing Wrought? (1, Insightful)

NihilEst (976138) | about 8 years ago | (#15686432)

Yes, I know how my car works. Yes, I know how my dishwasher works. And I do know how my computers work. You obviously cannot say the same.

But that isn't the point. The point is that MS products are closed-source. You couldn't know how your 'trusty' windoze data warehouse (after all, that's the point of the 'tool') worked even if you understood how computers worked, which you probably don't if you claim to have a "stable" XP system you've had to restore just once. Windows users have been electroshocked into thinking that "stable" means "don't have to restore or reinstall this week". You are the exact prototype of the person MS invented Windoze to serve: oops, bandwidth gone ... oops, disk space gone ... oops, data gone ... oops, data compromised ... oops, identity stolen. Oh well, I can always go back to the last system restore point and all's fine again. NOT.

I will not run windoze. Malware/spyware/viruses (gee, thanks ... as if I didn't know that) and plain old crappy engineering are the reasons. I don't waste time or risk data re-installing a faulty OS. I haven't ever had a problem with spyware, and I've never had to run a virus scanner. But I've listened to seemingly millions of people tell me all about it. I've seen enough windoze boxes stopped dead cold to keep me away from it.

Had you read the article, you would have read that you don't have to download stupid crap any more. That was 1996 state of the windoze invasion art. It's 2006. Your windoze box can be infected by simply visiting any one of a number of web sites. They're inventing new ways of infecting your machine faster than the virus scanners can be updated. Are you sure you're not infected? I wouldn't be too sure, especially if you don't know how your machine works. Would you understand infection if it stared you in the face? Do you accept cookies? Do you run DirectX? Do you ever open e-mail attachments? It's not as simple as avoiding dumb downloads any more.

A virus scanner shouldn't be necessary. But for survival with Windoze, you must have one; and even then you're not safe. By definition, the malware writers are one step ahead of your scanner. This is the end result of running the worst-designed OS available today combined with greed. The greed starts with MS and ends all the way at the advertisers. Your windoze box is just the tool to expose you to their messages and get to your wallet.

Re:Oh, What Hath Marketing Wrought? (1)

Orange Goblin (945041) | about 8 years ago | (#15686585)

So, I was going to ignore your personal attacks and reply to this properly, but then I saw your sig: "Founding member: He-Man Windoze Hater Club" and realised I might as well go bash my head against a brick wall for a bit instead. I'm not a zealot, I run Linux as well, I know when to use the right tool for the job. I'll leave you to your Hater Club.

Re:Oh, What Hath Marketing Wrought? (1)

Darundal (891860) | about 8 years ago | (#15686689)

Flamebait. But, hey, gotta give you credit, that is the LONGEST piece of flamebait I have ever seen. Somebody should give you a medal. A flaming one.

Re:Oh, What Hath Marketing Wrought? (0)

vadim_t (324782) | about 8 years ago | (#15686545)

Oh yeah, that works. All it takes you is a virus scanner (which you probably pay for) to work around the stupidity in the OS design, and which creates a significant performance impact by scanning every file. And that obviously didn't fix it all, since you still need a hardware firewall, as Windows (unlike Linux) is unsafe to install without one, and you still need system restore and adaware to deal with what got through the antivirus.

Screw that. My Linux install on my main computer is over 2 years old, and survived through a motherboard change and a switch from a single CPU to SMP. I never had to rollback or fix anything. My Linux install on my laptop has been there since I bought the laptop (about 1.5 years ago), and lived through a disk failure (boot from CD, connect old disk by USB, copy all data over). My server had been up for about a year without rebooting and only went down because I decided the hardware was too old. My firewall has been running the same Linux install for about 4 years (perhaps more), with the hardware changing several times under it.

None of those systems required wasting time on stuff like system restore, spyware scanning, or reducing system performance by installing an antivirus. I know I can count on my computer to work every day excluding hardware failure. Bet you can't do that.

Re:Oh, What Hath Marketing Wrought? (2, Informative)

Orange Goblin (945041) | about 8 years ago | (#15686596)

Virus scanner: free, hardware firewall: wireless router, and as I said, Adaware and system restore are rarely needed (with the system restore being a one off). My Win2k box has been running for 4 years, and that is a crappy Dell machine. All you have to do is follow good pratice and be sure what you are downloading/accepting etc. Oh and don't use IE, because I agree, it is a piece of crap.

Re:Oh, What Hath Marketing Wrought? (-1, Offtopic)

vadim_t (324782) | about 8 years ago | (#15686630)

Oh, I understand that you can get Windows to kinda work. But that doesn't make it any better.

To use the car analogy that's so popular here, Windows is like a decrepit car held together by several rolls of duct tape, and plugged holes in the radiator. Sure, you can manage to get somewhere with it if you know its various quirks and what needs taping, or getting plugged when it leaks. But that doesn't really make it a good car, does it?

One guy I know has a car exactly like that. Older than he is, crappy, beaten up, but it still works, until it starts to rain. You see, the wipers mechanism is broken and he couldn't find a suitable replacement piece, so he has something held by wire there. One time he was giving me a lift and it started to rain. Damn that was scary. He had to stop on the *highway* to exit the car and mess with the wipers, as the pouring rain and non-working wipers resulted in having about no visibility.

90% of machines running Windows I've seen are exactly like that. Sorta works, until something crashes, it reboots spontaneously, 20 ads pop up out of nowhere...

Now, this guy has very good (economical) reasons to putting up with crap like that. But since Linux is free, I don't really understand why would anybody insist Windows is any good when there's an alternative that actually works. Obvious exceptions are if you really need to run something not available on Linux, but Wine is pretty decent these days, and vmware is now effectively free.

I agree.. (1)

Ougarou (976289) | about 8 years ago | (#15686408)

As long as they don't have Linux support, I'm not interested!

Ironic or am I being pickey (2, Insightful)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | about 8 years ago | (#15686266)

An article about internet advertising that makes me click through 5 pages for just one article. Its a shame I didn't click past the first page.

Re:Ironic or am I being pickey (2)

gentgeen (653418) | about 8 years ago | (#15686694)

That is why I used the "Print version" button to read the article. Not that I printed it, just got rid of all the crap.

is it just me (1)

xmodem_and_rommon (884879) | about 8 years ago | (#15686296)

Is it just me or is something broken around here? This story has been up for hours, and still only 2 comments, none of which are above the default viewing threshold? huh?

Like Norton isn't making money off of it... (1)

Carpe Insomnia (983727) | about 8 years ago | (#15686318)

I have seen first hand that Norton and McAfee don't work on this. Simply run Ad-aware and ewido, both free, and both get the job done. But people seem to spend millions each year on crappy programs that perpetuate spy-ware and viruses. Stupid humans. I wonder if one can sue a company such as Revenue Direct for, well, I don't know, messing up someones computer? If only sleep could be caught.

Why is spyware not illegal? (5, Insightful)

AriaStar (964558) | about 8 years ago | (#15686343)

It amounts to stalking, spying, possibly breaking and entering, and stealing, and the porn pop-ups break federal laws.

When you go to many websites, such as Amazon or Adam & Eve, you can expect as much privacy as in a local mall. But if someone were to follow you around from store to store, at that point it would be stalking.

Now when that "someone" (spyware company) breaks into your property (your computer) to install something without your consent (spyware programs), it's beyond just your typical stalking and into spying. Add to the charge that this "person" didn't have permission to enter your property in any way and you can add breaking and entering to this.

To run this program that you didn't consent to having uses power you are paying for. If it causes your system to crash, if you are someone who can't fix it, you've got to pay someone to repair it for you. Money out of your pocket. Theft. At the least of your own time to fix it.

When you go to a porn site, you usually have to click something saying you are at least 18 or of legal age to view sexually explicit material, and that you consent to doing so. If you were to sit a minor in front of the computer, or were to allow a minor to be nearby while viewing said material, you've commited an offense for which you could be required to register as a sex offender. But yet porn pop-ups happen on sites that aren't sexual in nature, sites that kids sometimes visit. The spyware company is giving no notice whatsoever that sexual material is about to pop up, no chance to consent or for children to be removed from the room first. Would this not be a violation of federal laws by the spyware companies by exposing minors to sexual material?

So I repeat, why is spyware not illegal?

Because (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 8 years ago | (#15686416)

It's one of those things that's hard to define. You know it when you see it, but providing a hard and fast definition, which is what you need for a law, is very difficult. Every one I can think up either is too lax, and so it would not be useful because spyware companies would just find ways to modify their software to be legal, or is too strict, and bans useful software. For example you might be inclined to define it as software that downloads things to your computer in the background without you specificly initating it. Sounds good, until you realise this bans things like Firefox's auto updater. Ok so you add a provision saying "but it's ok if it informs you." So now the spyware comes with a big legalese contract that "informs" you (much of it already does).

Unfortunately, I don't think that over all we can have a law that makes spyware illegal, but doesn't ban useful software.

Re:Because (1)

Hydroksyde (910948) | about 8 years ago | (#15686428)

You know the world is in a sorry state when we can't make distinctions between visible, consise, short, plain-language dialog boxes and pages and pages of legalese...

Re:Why is spyware not illegal? (1)

oPless (63249) | about 8 years ago | (#15686456)

Ironic that your linked image in your sig is worksafe, but the photoalbum that it's linked to isn't and also has no warning...

Just a thought!

Re:Why is spyware not illegal? (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 8 years ago | (#15686652)

Thanks for pointing out the sig... Hehe... Boobieees! ;-)

Re:Why is spyware not illegal? (1)

hackstraw (262471) | about 8 years ago | (#15686478)

So I repeat, why is spyware not illegal?

Dunno, seems like the government would make it illegal so that they would no longer have any competition.

Good question.

Actually, since the government usually sucks at their spying on citizens and keeping their own data secure, maybe they need these guys around for help?

Re:Why is spyware not illegal? (1)

mattkime (8466) | about 8 years ago | (#15686580)

>>So I repeat, why is spyware not illegal?

Because you agreed to it in the license!

Re:Why is spyware not illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686609)

Simple Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15686441)

If it ain't got source and a GNU or open source approved license it doesn't get installed, no matter how great that piece of software looks.

$%*&^! web-designer BS (0, Offtopic)

coats (1068) | about 8 years ago | (#15686617)

I'm running
SeaMonkey 1.0.1
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.8.0.2) Gecko/20060405 SeaMonkey/1.0.1
but the web site gives me:
Message boards - unsupported web client
This feature requires a more recent version of Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. To download the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, visit the Internet Explorer Web site.
Damned incompetent web-site designers!!!! P?

Re:$%*&^! web-designer BS (1)

yuna49 (905461) | about 8 years ago | (#15686666)

Doesn't work with Firefox 1.5.0.4 either. Of course, this is MSNBC.com....

You know what really grinds my gears? (3, Interesting)

subxero37 (985222) | about 8 years ago | (#15686706)

I was browsing 4chan the other day, in their Random section, looking for interesting (ha) pictures to add to my new website that's been in the works for way too long, and bam -- I get tons of popups, a bunch of icons appear on my desktop, and I've got three freakin' toolbars (unhideable toolbars, mind you) in all of my Explorer windows. What's more -- I was using Firefox. I have IE's settings set to the highest possible security, so that even in the worst case that IE lauched for any reason, I won't get screwed. But wow, I certainly did not expect Firefox to be vulnerable to spyware. (I have since reformatted -- I tried everything to get rid of the toolbars and extra crap. I eventually got rid of most of it, but the thing made it so I couldn't right-click anything except for icons in Explorer. Arrrr. Why didn't I view 4chan on my Slackware box? -- More digression: the spyware managed to install some crappy program, which was actually listed in Add/Remove Programs, but the program was using over 10 MB. How can spyware install so quickly if it's so large?)

I see a lot of computers with spyware. Most, if not all, of the computers that I fix have been completely demolished by malware, spyware, adware, and just general crap. A lot of times, it's from user ignorance (the kind of people that don't even skim EULAs). However, many times, it's from them visiting a website that looks just fine, and the website using some kind of hole in IE to screw over the viewer.

So I must ask, how is exploiting security holes a legal business method? It's obvious that most spyware-creating companies use this tactic, since it's obvious that no one in their right minds would accept spyware voluntarily. Since many times it is known (through thorough searches and whatnot) who created the spyware with which one's machine is infected, I find it hard to believe that no serious legal action has been taken up with these companies.

I am truly displeased to see even Firefox becoming a serious target for these jackasses. If Opera felt better (I have this thing about the "feel" of some programs that I can't explain) I might think about almost downloading it.

"When I find myself in times of trouble... (0)

Chris Tucker (302549) | about 8 years ago | (#15686765)

...Steven Jobs, he comes to me.

Speaking words of wisdow, 'A-P-P-L-E!'"

OS X...because making UNIX friendly was easier than fixing Windows.
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