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FTC Fines Zango $3 Million

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the better-than-a-kick-in-the-pants dept.

77

An anonymous reader writes "Wired is reporting that government regulators have fined rogue adware distributor Zango (formerly 180Solutions) $3 million. This is 'following charges that the company deceived internet users into installing its pop-up software and tried to prevent them from uninstalling it.' ZDNet mentions that 'Zango's executives pointed a finger elsewhere, claiming that the federal violations were due to third-party distributors rather than the software manufacturer itself.' Security researchers are still happily finding examples of Zango software being popped open in rogue distributions such as IM worms. Ben Edelman is claiming to have more evidence of their dubious business practices, casting into question their claims of newfound affiliate responsibility."

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77 comments

There must be a lot of money in malware. (1)

Pinkfud (781828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717687)

If these guys can pay a fine that size and still be in business, one has to wonder just how much loot they rake in with their wonderful little surprises.

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (1)

gripen40k (957933) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717713)

Wow, yeah, never thought of that before. I wonder where it comes from, 'cause I wouldn't imagine that there would be that many people actually clicking on stuff in their popups... Any ideas?

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717779)

You'll never go broke relying on the stupidity of others.

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (1)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717871)

I'm not sure of how it works, exactly, but they make most of their money from hi-jacking affiliate sales.

For instance, if they have a popup that redirects you to a specific URL at Amazon.com, then for the next 45 or 90 days anything you buy at Amazon.com gets credited to them as an affiliate, even if you go directly to their site.

Commission Junction tracks stuff for 45 days the same way.

Consider how much money will be spent at Amazon.com for the next 90 days (holiday season) and how widespread their adware is. They could be making incredible amounts of money, and you wouldn't even know it. Unfortunately, neither would Amazon.com (who just thinks their affiliate program is working wonders and these guys are super affiliates).

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719379)

For instance, if they have a popup that redirects you to a specific URL at Amazon.com, then for the next 45 or 90 days anything you buy at Amazon.com gets credited to them as an affiliate, even if you go directly to their site.

I don't think that's correct. For instance, just the other day I had someone follow this link [amazon.com] . They didn't buy anything right then, but a few hours later they went directly to it and bought something, and I didn't get any credit. But of course maybe I made a mistake in constructing the link.

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (1)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719401)

Paradise Pete wrote:
But of course maybe I made a mistake in constructing the link.
Your mistake was not hijacking their browser to re-insert your referral whenever they go to any of your sites.

~Rebecca

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (1)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719525)

Well, that could be for 2 reasons:

1. Amazon may have stopped the 45 day thing as part of their fraud prevention. 45 - 90 days is still very common (if not the standard) for affiliate payouts. I couldn't find it mentioned on their site.

2. The person that followed that link had cookies turned off, cleared their cookies, used a different browser or computer the second time, etc.

3. As the original post discussed, the persons computer could have had malware that hijacked the sale, taking credit for it. It would be very easy to detect the use of another affiliate code, replace it with their code, and redirect to that page. Especially using IE 6 and below, which felt like they were designed to cater to the malware designers.

In any event the hijacking of affiliate commissions is very real and widely used.

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805842)

Thanks for the detailed reply. I don't do much with affiliate stuff - just a few friends who follow my link when they go to Amazon - so I'm fairly ignorant about the whole thing. When one of them told me he was going to buy a MacBook Pro, and asked me what I thought he should choose, I constructed that link for him, and explained that if he followed it I'd get some small kickback out of it. He did, but I didn't. The only thing he did was not buy it until the next day.

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (1)

gripen40k (957933) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719707)

Well, if that's true then I'm thinking I have to get into the browser hijacking business! Anyone know a security flaw in Firefox that will let me do that ;)

Seriously though, if Amazon, for instance, stopped allowing referrals over the holiday season (now till boxing day) then not only would they be saving big money, but nearly all referral schemes would be pretty much shut down (assuming all Amazon-style sites did this of course). But then would you presume that Amazon would loose some holiday profit from reduced user in-flux? If that is the case, then maybe Amazon is somewhat behind the adware business, in that they might actually (someday, I don't think right now...) make their own software to do something similar (although hopefully without the virus side of most adware :P). Hmmm, very interesting indeed, all they really need to do is gang up with google and have some crazy adsense/referral thing going on, through it into google desktop (or even that new program [slashdot.org] Blake Ross is making), and let the money roll in!

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (1)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719823)

Nah, the whole viral / referral marketing thing works because it is upfront. Companies that try to force it end up failing.

I think Google has succeeded because they haven't done anything seedy or contrived. They have tried to be very fair with AdSense and AdWords, and they owe much of their financial success to that.

Adware and spammers be damned.

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#16721227)

Nothing seedy?

You mean like not allowing people to register adwords keywords on nearly every keyword, related to their product or not?

Right.

You used to be able to search for "Black people" and get an ad that said "Buy Black People Here!"

It's not that comedic now, but a search for "black people" brings up:

Target.com: Official Site
Find Great Savings Online.
Shop Target.com
www.Target.com

What the hell does target have to do with black people?

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (1)

gripen40k (957933) | more than 7 years ago | (#16721623)

'Jewish People' brings up ads about jewish people, so it might just be case specific, although I don't care nearly enough to actually find terms that have ads of no relevance...

Re:There must be a lot of money in malware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717891)

Didn't you read the headline? The fine's not just any ordinary currency -- it's a whopping three million dollars dollars.

With a fine like that, they might just reconsider the way they run their business.

Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717693)

First of all, I hate spyware as much as the next guy but this is just crazy. Zango did *not* create or distribute these IM worms or exploits. That is done only by independent resellers whose accounts are closed immediately when they are found or reported to Zango. All installations from Zango themselves occured when people clicked and agreed to install the spyware-- it's hardly the author's fault if ignorant users say "Yes" to anything that pops up on their screen. I do not want the government telling me what software I can and can not install, and the FTC shouldn't be fining software authors for their reseller's misuse of the product. The fair way to destroy Zango is to vote with our wallets by boycotting their software and sites that are sponsored by them, not to let the government tell programmers what otherwise legal code they can and can't offer to users.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

The Mysterious X (903554) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717757)

1.) Zango paid for every installation, voluntary or not
2.) The software installed is almost impossible to remove. Believe me, I've tried.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

Anal Cock (1016533) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717897)

Add/Remove programs

Re:Ridiculous (1)

mikeisme77 (938209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718319)

Add/Remove programs doesn't work on the 180Solutions software. It'd be nice if it did, but in some cases it pretends to do something (while in reality doing nothing), in other cases it tells you to go to a web site to get the removal software (which you either never get or doesn't work), or it just tells you that this software cannot be removed.It's been awhile since I've had to deal with this crap (I've been fortunate in that I haven't seen it on any computers I've had to fix in over 2 years--actually, I haven't had to deal with any malware in over 2 years since I mostly serviced the computers of friends and family and I've moved them all over to Firefox and other alternative browsers and have gotten them to use free anti-virus and anti-spyware programs), but the grandparent is correct in stating that it is next to impossible to uninstall.Maybe the newer stuff can be removed easily like that, but at least their older stuff suffered from this problem. As did that 20/20 search bar or whatever the heck it was.

Re:Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718353)

If you don't like the uninstaller they offer, don't install their software. There is no law that says software authors have to put their products in Windows Add/Remove Programs Control Panel.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

mikeisme77 (938209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718411)

Malware != regulare software. It doesn't have an uninstaller and due to security problems with IE and Windows installs itself--so it's not really a choice of the user (other than not using IE and Windows of course--hence why I haven't had to deal with this for over 2 years). Now stop trolling.

Re:Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718731)

And yet again you post something entirely false with no understanding of what the Zango software does. It does not use security problems with IE or Windows, and it does not install itself. It doesn not install against the choice of the user. If you took 4 seconds to read the article, you would understand that these tactics were all done by third party resellers who were not under the control of Zango.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

Kijori (897770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719819)

What difference does it make who caused it to install automatically - it does. And can't be removed. When calculating user responsibility it doesn't matter why these things are true.

Re:Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16720961)

The troll saith:
these tactics were all done by third party resellers who were not under the control of Zango
So what you are saying is that the drug dealers are responsible for selling crack to your kids, but the cartels that supply the dealers are not responsible? Destroy the cartels, and the drug problem is reduced. Destroy Zango/180 Solutions, and the Zango/180 caused spyware problem is gone.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 7 years ago | (#16722503)

If you don't like their uninstaller don't install it? Are you crazy? This stuff gets installed illegally most of the time. I own a small business and I clean this stuff all the time. The 180 solutions and Zango is some of the worst violators and some of the hardest to remove. When I question how it got installed the customers have no idea.

These people didn't get fined $3 million for doing legit installs bro. They've been fined for installing it in a rogue way and then of course, for the illegal actions they take once it is installed.

The fine should have been $30 million and maybe you should be responsible for paying some of it since you seem to be telling others that a malware application is ok to install if you like their uninstaller. Seriously, tho, it is pretty bad you write comments with such utter lack of common sense in them.

Re:Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717973)

1.) That's incorrect, Zango does not pay for installations that violate its terms of service. They close the accounts and freeze the balances of distributors that don't follow the rules (and it's in their best interest financially to enforce this.)
2.) The government does not tell me what I can and can not install on my computer. It's none of their damned business to decide if something is too difficult for me to uninstall and stop me from downloading what I want on my own computer. Allowing the government to "protect" us from software some people might not know how to install by banning it is like "protecting" us from books we may not understand by burning them. If I want to agree to install malicious spyware on my computer, I'm entirely within my right to do so regardless of what the FTC thinks of the software.

The last person to say this was being sarcastic, but it's true. The FTC fining Zango because of spyware is like the FDA banning Viagra because of spam.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 7 years ago | (#16720349)

Ya know, this is one of those cases where intent matters quite a bit, as does notice.

If a developer makes software which is intentionally difficult to uninstall and fails to effectively notify potential users of this property, there are arguably elements of fraud going on. There's also the common-sense test as to whether the license agreement which the user submits to does in fact provide something of value to each party and is not so one-sided as to be innately unreasonable. (There's a specific term, but it's been a looong time since I took B-law).

(I Am, by the way, very much Not A Lawyer).

It's not enough (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717741)

It's not enough. It's not nearly enough!

Kind of torn (1)

slusich (684826) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717743)

I have to say I'm kind of torn on the issue of spyware. It's a terrible practice and causes serious problems with people's computers every day.

At the same time, I've made my fair share of money cleaning it off PC's. :)

Seriously, it's about time that fines were imposed against the companies that propagate this. People who suffer actual damages from these programs should start bringing lawsuits against them.

Re:Kind of torn - hard to sue (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717873)

People who suffer actual damages from these programs should start bringing lawsuits against them.

The problems here are:

1: It's hard to prove actual damages.
2: It's hard to identify the company to sue.
3: It's hard sue a company in small claims court that isn't in your county, let alone your state.
4: It's hard to serve them properly.
5: It's hard to defeat their argument that you agreed to a click-through license in allowing the install.
6: It's hard to collect, even if you win!

If it had been easy, all this would have already been done on a daily basis.

Re:Kind of torn - hard to sue (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 7 years ago | (#16720827)

6: It's hard to collect, even if you win!

Yeah, I'd like to be a mouse in the corner when the FTC tries to collect. The FTC needs the authority to add another mill a day for every day they drag their feet writing the check IMNSHO. Or the legal ability to audit, and THEN set the fine at about 100k more per person in a responsible position within the company than they have in assets so the CEO's of such questionable operations lose their beemers and boats, maybe even their houses at sheriffs sale.

Seems only fair to me anyway. The only way to take the crime away from society is to make it a losing proposition at the end of the day, with some jail time if theres no assets to pay the fine with by the time it gets down to that.

Jeff Schilling only getting 24+ years for all the billions he helped bilk out of his investors is a classic case of a gross miss-carriage of justice. I think a few public burnings at the stake would clean things up a hell of a lot faster in corporate america. He likely won't serve anywhere near that 24 years as they'll release him for humanitarian reasons related to old age long before that. Bet the farm on it, then go vote the incumbents out of office tuesday, every one of them thats on the ballot and has an opponent, vote for the opponent even if he's not in your favorite party. We have got to shake them up, send a message, whatever it takes to reclaim our country.

--
Cheers, Gene

Re:Kind of torn - hard to sue (1)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 7 years ago | (#16722535)

Advertisers know exactly what is going on with their dollars when they hire a company to distribute their ads, etc. The way to clear this up is to allow people to sue the advertisers. That'll stop it quickly. I remember, there's some site that has a wall of shame (or something like that) about advertisers who are doing business with these malware groups. That needs to be made more public.

Re:Kind of torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718289)

I have to say I'm kind of torn on the issue of spyware. It's a terrible practice and causes serious problems with people's computers every day.

I'm kind of torn myself. I don't know whether they should fed feet-first through a wood chipper, or slathered in honey and put over an anthill -- the former is quicker, but the latter doesn't require cleaning up heavy machinery after you're done.

3 million...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717749)

Chump change!

What else?

----Yours truly,

The American Spammers Association

Uh huh, right. (1)

edunbar93 (141167) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717753)

Zango's executives pointed a finger elsewhere, claiming that the federal violations were due to third-party distributors

Yeah. And Pfizer isn't responsible for the spam sent by the third party distributors that they turn a blind eye to, and that they "don't control".

#1, you *had* third party distributors.
#2, you did nothing when they started doing Bad Things.
#3, you specifically set up the relationship in a way where they could basically do whatever they liked. If they did Bad Things, you would say "Shock! Horror! How did *that* happen!?"
#4, you're in the advertising business, and "viral marketing" is your favourite buzzword du jour.

Re:Uh huh, right. (1)

kirun (658684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718065)

I suggest you use Google®-brand search to check your claims in future, because Pfizer has sued people sending out Viagra spam.

Consder the following... (3, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717825)

Consider the following in assessing their guilt:

tried to prevent them from uninstalling it.

If they were innocent they would make an easy and safe removal tool as widely available as possible. And this tool should block any further attempts to reinstall the software as part of the removal process. Also...

'Zango's executives pointed a finger elsewhere, claiming that the federal violations were due to third-party distributors rather than the software manufacturer itself.

Oh, isn't that clever. Point the finger. Not our fault. Get a clue stick folks. Nobody works to sneak software onto a user's system that they're not getting paid for doing. If Zango were to actually stop paying for any further installs by anyone this problem would quickly go away. In addition, the software certainly has to contact Zango servers for updates and ads to display. Have your servers refuse to accept connections from any previous versions of your software, rendering it effectively toothless before you give me your poor me tales of woe.

Better yet, use your software to advertise the removal tool referenced above to all current users.

And Dear FCC, go after the advertisers who have used Zango to flog their wares. A few hundred thousand in fines here, and a few hundred thousand there, and the message will get out while you're reducing the government deficit in the process.

The plain truth is, there are some business models that DO NOT DESERVE to survive.

Re:Consder the following... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718039)

The plain truth is, there are some business models that DO NOT DESERVE to survive.

So, what you are saying is, I can't sell my diet pills that contain tapeworm segments anymore? You want me to think about the consumer and the real harm I could do to them? Ludicrous I tell you, ludicrous.

slash sarcasm

Re:Consder the following... (2, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718277)

The uninstaller should prevent another installation of the software? Just playing devil's advocate here, but that's a much higher standard you are setting them up against than just about any other software.

For one thing, what if this was Firefox. Should the uninstaller set up up so that if you uninstall Firefox once, it should never be installed on the computer again?

Then again, how should the uninstaller do that without leaving bits in the registry or a program directory? And wouldn't you want an uninstaller to clean out it's directory and leave the registry in a clean state?

Re:Consder the following... (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#16720131)

leave a text file called, "ZANGO_DONOT_INSTALL.txt"

The point is, to make the installer detect if its to not install again.

Why? Because it NEVER ASKS to install, it does it magically, where as firefox is a
manual install, not a sly install.

Any way, send those zanga people to Gitmo for a nice 6month vacation.

Re:Consder the following... (1)

Durrok (912509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718385)

... there are some business models that DO NOT DESERVE to survive.....

In America. Once they are no longer based in the US we (for the most part) can't touch them. Fining them doesn't really solve the problem... just makes it go elsewhere. Still, as long as they are dumb enough to operate this kind of business in America might as well get our punches in while we can.

Re:Consder the following... (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718495)

Ok while I'm not usually one to complain about the form of the message your excessive use of the bold tag is more than a little annoying. When you emphasize every other statement in your document the emphasis kind of loses it's meaning.

Seriously man, just type out what you want to say. The bolding does nothing but make it harder to read.

Re:Consder the following... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16719315)

All of my foes are bold nazis.

Re:Consder the following... (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718903)

>And Dear FCC, go after the advertisers who have used Zango to flog their wares. A few hundred thousand in fines here, and a few hundred thousand there, and the message will get out while you're reducing the government deficit in the process.

Oh that would be great. Companies would make advertisers sign ethical agreement. No more viral or guerilla marketing either. Ethics and advertising? I'm not holding my breath. Something tells me many companies (especially small web-based ones) like it this way.

Re:Consder the following... (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#16721205)

And Dear FCC

FTC! Not FCC. The FCC sells our frequencies to corporate interests, while the FTC slaps the most blatent corporate scammers on the wrist with small fines. Get it straight! :)

don't they deserve it? (1)

vindimy (941049) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717875)

i say, people who aren't smart enough to not install those "free screen savers" and "blackjack casino" games deserve to have their computers thrashed by ad ware. maybe they'll learn the lesson when 100 pop-ups launch every time they click on the blue "e" thing. same goes to the people who still believe that they can get a free alienware laptop by filling out surveys and "browsing" the web.

Re:don't they deserve it? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718019)

the "they deserve it" train of thought sucks, because while they *might* indeed deserve it, they're also likely made part of a botnet that then goes performing DoS attacks, spamming and scanning for exploits. Ultimately they just screw the net up for everyone else, so its in everyone's best interest to not only protect these people but go after the idiots pushing this stuff.

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

brian_tanner (1022773) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718067)

Yeah sure, they deserve it. Anyone that thinks that they might be able to download something cool from the Internet for free *deserves* to have their machine maliciously invaded and "thrashed". That's what they get for believing something that is offered to them.

Also, every random grandma got cleaned out by a phishing scam also deserves it. I'm sure that dumb old bag deserved it.. couldn't she see that the url was an IP address and not really her bank?

Maybe people should just need a license to use the Internet and *you* can be in charge of giving them out. Maybe you could do the training too, so every person in the web-connected world can aspire to be as wise as you.

Re:don't they deserve it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718097)

"Maybe people should just need a license to use the Internet and *you* can be in charge of giving them out. Maybe you could do the training too, so every person in the web-connected world can aspire to be as wise as you."

Congratulations on answering a legitimate response with complete nonsense.

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

vindimy (941049) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718163)

Maybe people should just need a license to use the Internet
the problem isn't the phishing websites. it's the stupid/old/'technophobic' people. those who can't safely use the technology, they shouldn't be allowed to. but of course we're not to allow/disallow that basic right to them. don't blame the phishers - they are just taking advantage of the stupid people. it's a jungle and life is the survival of the fittest. let's not be on the stupid people's side, please??? and yes, if grandma can't tell the difference between her bank and a fake site, perhaps she shouldn't be trusted large sums of money and have someone help her handle her financial transactions. on the side note, i've seen a lot of car accidents involving old drivers who kill young potent people... what right those old scumbags have to take away young lives?

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

brian_tanner (1022773) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718447)

That's a pretty strong comparison to say that an old person getting swindled by another person who is directly trying to deceive them is the same thing as an old person not knowing/acknowledging their physical limitations and getting into an accident. I just don't get this "don't be on the stupid people's side", because "it's a jungle out there and life is the survival of the fittest". If I told you that I made a living by tricking old people into letting me into their homes, tying them up, and then stealing their stuff, you wouldn't say that they deserved it for letting me in the door, would you? Maybe you would... I don't understand how people getting scammed in some way through the Internet is somehow so different from a telephone or a face-to-face meeting. If some grandmother gets scammed in person by a con artist, people say it's a sad shame and the con artist is a horrible person. If some grandma gets scammed over the Internet it's her own fault? Again - perhaps both of these are ok to some people - if I am a victim of fraud, perhaps it's my own fault. I should have shredded my documents, been more careful online, used Firefox and Linux, etc.... basically if there is a hole in my fraud defense, then I am liable for whatever comes through that hole. That's an opinion people are entitled to hold, I guess. Personally - my view is that the fact that *you* don't lock your home doesn't entitle me to walk right in and steal your TV and say its your fault.

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

vindimy (941049) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718591)

I don't understand how people getting scammed in some way through the Internet is somehow so different from a telephone or a face-to-face meeting.
i'll tell you the difference. in real life, if i'd go to a ghetto neighborhood and start talking to the "wrong people" there and then get in trouble (get shot, beaten up, sold drugs, arrested by police, etc.), who in the world would say that it's not my fault to go somewhere knowing that it's a dangerous place to go to? that's the equivalent of going to zango or other malware/adware distributors (they don't come to your door and tell you to download their stuff) and downloading their content (and in that way, agreeing to their legal terms) and THEN complaining that the computer is full of shit.. well.. you should've known better.. and if you don't.. go to a community college and take computers 101 course to learn how to see that difference! we don't let 4-year-olds walk alone on the streets because they don't possess the necessary judgment/experience necessary to navigate in real world - how is that different from lame/old/plain stupid people who are navigating through the virtual world without having any idea of what they're doing?

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

ph43thon (619990) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718761)

I {heart} analogies!

If you walk down a dark alley at night and someone cuts your throat... you may be stupid, but that doesn't mean the throat-cutter gets a pass. You are stupid.. you are dead = good. Throat-cutter is mean.. throat-cutter is punished = good.

See.. easy analogy to the rescue.. stupid people are punished for being stupid AND mean people are punished for being mean. That is the law of the jungle. The jungle cat!

I welcome your analogy-riposte!

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

Cr33pybusguy (1012459) | more than 7 years ago | (#16720113)

One of main reasons that Zango got nailed (as the well should be) is because of stealth installs. Those Leet Haxxors are not only bundling Zango shit along with those lovely virii and trojan when you visit their often innocent looking websites. One a few months back was a hacked World Wresting Entertainment site. Zango knows full well that the majority of their income comes from these often unwanted installs.
They knew that the Install yes/no boxes are pre-ticked yes so you accidentally click it and recieve the pop-ups of doom.
They knew they had affiliates who didn't even bother with the yes/no install boxes. They still paid these affiliates.
Zango only stopped paying certain affiliates when they got busted by Ben Edleman, and Paperghost.
Zango deliberately made their EULA so confusing that most Lawyers can't even read it let along your average person.
Ad-ware/Malware distributors do come to your proverbial door. Most (if not all) Zombie computers have some for of adware running on them. Zango knocks on your door almost every time you get a "cool" video from your friends via email. Zango kicks down your door when your daughter gets some free emoticons from a friend on her favourite IM and it contains a virus which zombifies your machine.
These guys are ruthless and heartless.
So don't give me that shit about internet safety 101 when innocent sites are hacked to have the activeX install upwards of 500MB (yep you read that right) of garbage on your computer.
True they should have firewalls, ant-virus and everything else running like most of us here do but they don't. Why? Because we shouldn't be required to go to local Walmart wearing a bulletproof vest in real life and we shouldn't be required to have a virtual one on either to "just surf the net" or check out when Hulk Hogan is coming to town. These people are just innocent by-standers in this underground war for internet control.
Your defense is like saying she deserved being raped because she was wearing a skirt.

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718487)

Yeah sure, they deserve it. Anyone that thinks that they might be able to download something cool from the Internet for free *deserves* to have their machine maliciously invaded and "thrashed". That's what they get for believing something that is offered to them.

People shouldn't trust free things in the regular world. Why would it magically be safer on the internet?

Also, every random grandma got cleaned out by a phishing scam also deserves it. I'm sure that dumb old bag deserved it.. couldn't she see that the url was an IP address and not really her bank?

In my opinion, she did deserve it. I don't feel bad for people who get ripped off, hurt, or killed because they're idiots. As far as I'm concerned, if you can't be bothered to educate yourself about what you're doing, you deserve it.

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718553)

People shouldn't trust free things in the regular world. Why would it magically be safer on the internet?

Taking something that isn't yours is wrong in the regular world, but if you believe the posts on Slashdot, doing it on the Internet is moral and just. Apparently there is some sort of magic dichotomy in effect.

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718695)

Taking something that isn't yours is wrong in the regular world, but if you believe the posts on Slashdot, doing it on the Internet is moral and just. Apparently there is some sort of magic dichotomy in effect.

I wasn't talking about stealing. I meant more along the lines of "Here little boy, come closer to my van so I can give you some candy."

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

mightyQuin (1021045) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718855)

"People shouldn't trust free things in the regular world. Why would it magically be safer on the internet?"

Last time I checked, linux was free - and so was pretty much everything in the open-source community.

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718891)

Yeah, I probably should have said "People shouldn't automatically trust ..."

Re:don't they deserve it? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718935)

People shouldn't trust free things in the regular world. Why would it magically be safer on the internet?

There are plenty of pieces of free software you can get online; why should someone with limited experience in distinguishing the good ones from the bad ones face that much punishment?

Zango and friends ruined freeware (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719195)

Actually no. I remember a time long ago when there was tons of free software out there you could trust. I'm not talking about the open-source stuff (which I generally still trust when it's from SF.net or freshmeat), but demos, freeware utilities, shareware games, freeware episodes, etc.

There was a ton of free stuff out there without spyware, adware, or malware of any sort. Yes, you could get free screensavers (though many sucked). You could get free games (though most were demos). Nowadays, I see lots of things that look useful, but I just can't trust them to be *safe*.

There still is some safe free (non-os) software out there though, such as:

Skype [skype.com] talk to other computers, call phones in N. America for free?! Would you have trusted it
Screensavers [reallyslick.com] and more Screensavers [electricsheep.org]
Compression utilities [izarc.org]

and more

The problem is that unless you have a lot of references on the software (and sometimes even then) you just can't trust them to be clean nowadays. The above are some ones that I do trust, but it's sad that I have to second-guess most things that seem free nowadays because there are too many scams and pieces of crapware out there.

Re:don't they deserve it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16719559)

Very true. Anything free on the internet is automatically suspect.

I've even heard of suspect "free operating systems" that you can get. You'd have to be pretty stupid to install one of those though.

[OT] Where's all the mods? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718079)

Is there any public holiday in America or something? I can see hardly any comments greater than +2 on any story in the last couple of days. Is this just me or am I missing something?

The FTC is a good start, but it should be the DOJ (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718187)

Just fining these guys isn't going to make the problem go away. Unfortunately, I heard somewhere that the FTC doesn't have the power to shut down shit like this, you need the Department of Justice to do that. The only good thing about the FTC ruling is that it opens the door and provides good cause to get the DOJ involved. Whether that actually happens is another story.

Re:The FTC is a good start, but it should be the D (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719927)

I hope the DOJ attacks from here but I wish the FTC had fined them at least $50 million. If the fines get big enough crapware will get strangled.

Wow, three million dollars dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718287)

"FTC Fines Zango for $3 Million Dollars"

Yes, I am a pedant.

TANSTAAFL (2, Insightful)

Bellhead (236422) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718519)

Speaking in general, without reference to any specific individual or corporation, I'll add these comments about the adware/spyware industry:
  1. The reason adware companies do everything they can to make it difficult to remove their software is because they're in a hurry: they are making a lot of money very quickly, and they know that what they're doing will be illegal soon. When that happens, they want to be both rich and gone.
  2. Many whom use P2P software shrug of adware as the cost of getting "free" songs or movies, but it's not just copyright infringement that's going on. These are not victimless crimes: the adware vendors are commiting commercial fraud!
    • The ads some companies create on users' computers are not intended for the user! They're intended to artificially inflate the hit counts of the server that they come from, so that the server's owners can charge their advertisers more.
    • When an infected machine visits a site like Amazon.com, the adware can popup an Amazon ad in a way that makes Amazon think the operator "clicked through" from an affiliate. The result? The adware company gets a cut of everything you buy!
  3. They rely on children's innocence and gullibility to make their money:
    • Most adware I've removed was installed by teenagers and not adults, and I'd bet the adware companies count on that. Adults have a pretty good carp filter, after all: if somebody tries to sell me a pistol for two dollars, I've lived long enough to know that it's not a good bargain, but children will just click yes without thinking of consequences.
    • They're counting on the parents' indiference to perpepuate their scheme: too many adults will look the other way when their children install P2P software and start trading music, without thinking of the lessons they're giving their children in the process.
  4. The cost of removing their product from your PC is what an MBA calls an externality: it's not their pocket that gets picked, it's yours.

Long story short: adware is peddled by vicious and unprincipled businesses, and it works because it takes advantage of the worst habits in both children and adults. Those who cash the checks aren't concerned about the mess that they leave for you and me to clean up!

It's time to put a stop to it, for the simple reason that Heinlein was right - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!

Bellhead

$3 Million Dollars? (1)

Benswine (795948) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718541)

I wonder what using the dollar unit twice means in your title? Maybe it's the standard method to denote inflation?

Re:$3 Million Dollars? (1)

flokati (926091) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719769)

It means the fine was assessed in square dollars. They should just be thankful they didn't hit them with a 3M cubic dollar fine.

Oh, ZANGO. (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718569)

I was worried for a minute. I misread it as Zombo [zombo.com] Thank God my favorite intarweb site won't be going anywhere.

Re:Oh, ZANGO. (1)

vindimy (941049) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718633)

what the hell is zombo.com is all about? some stupid voice repeating that 'anything is possible'..? then they ask me to sign up for a newsletter

Re:Oh, ZANGO. (1)

lubricated (49106) | more than 7 years ago | (#16720095)

I was gonna explain it, but, fuck it. Nobody tell him.

Fight it bottom-up. (1)

Hexstream (892806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718801)

What you have to do is applying recursive fines. Those guys enjoy using lots of "sub-contractors" to "share responsibility" for the inherently evil actions. Instead of applying a fine of 3 millions on the 1st guy in the chain, they should apply similar fines to all the nodes in the tree. So if there are 16 contractors in all, 3 millions each. This would effectively fight the problem bottom-up. Since the small contractors make less money individually than the root company, they would suffer immediate bankrupt. The business chain won't run anymore if there's just the "root", or "front" company that can survive the fines. What usually happens (as in this case I think?), the root company makes MUCH more $ than they lose in fines so they laugh all the way to the bank.

One word (1)

web_wizard_888 (1017158) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719735)

Owned.

Windows-problem. Remove Windows - remove problem. (1)

Werrismys (764601) | more than 7 years ago | (#16720299)

If the user is stupid enough to buy Winblows, he/she deserves what he/she gets. -1 troll, blaablaa, but that's the fact of life - users of proper operating systems have to deal with NONE of this crap.

George W should... (2, Interesting)

TavisJohn (961472) | more than 7 years ago | (#16721997)

Why not just have George W just make a law/royal decree that all adware and spyware makers are terrorists! Then he could just imprision them without any due process, and take all their property. This problem of spyware and adware could be cleared up (From the US side anyway) quickly!

can we... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16724389)

Can we sue if we get infected? :D

Sounds Like Republican Ads in Tennessee (1)

ThisRoadClosed (1021025) | more than 7 years ago | (#16727507)

The Republican Party in Tennessee has commissioned a third party to generate disgusting ads against Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. This allows the Republicans themselves to announce that they, too, are "shocked" by the grossness of the ads while stating that they have no control over them and that it would be against the law for them to intervene. Hmm...adware companies and Republicans seem to be more alike than previously thought.

Shame Shame I Know Your Name (1)

writerjosh (862522) | more than 7 years ago | (#16738313)

...'But spyware researcher Ben Edelman doubts that the company has reformed its ways. "I commend the FTC's efforts here, but serious diligence will be required to assure that [the company] actually complies with its many obligations under the settlement," Edelman said in an e-mail on Friday. "At this instant, I am confident that [the company] is not in compliance."...

..."[The company] continues plenty of bad practices, including some unlabeled ads and installation attempts predicated on security exploits," said Edelman. "I have the proof, and I expect to post this on my Web site [techweb.com] in the coming weeks, subject only to my busy travel schedule." Zango's adware has been installed over 70 million times, according to the FTC. Its adware includes programs such as Zango Search Assistant, 180Search Assistant, Seekmo, and n-CASE. Often installed by third-party affiliates, the software monitors Internet use to display pop-up advertising. To date, the adware has displayed some 6.9 billion pop-up ads."'...

source [informationweek.com]
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