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Inside an Adware Company

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the ethically-challenged dept.

The Almighty Buck 244

Haikster writes "Brad Stone of Newsweek wrote a great article exposing DirectRevenue which is actually a combination of the old Dash guys with IPInsight, abetterinternet, offeroptimizer and blackstonemedia and the others... it's a bit lengthy but a great read."

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Inside a ffirst post... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057168)

First Post suckkaz!!!

Re:Inside a ffirst post... (1)

SteveXE (641833) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057371)

...what?

First Post. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057169)

First Post.

Re:First Post. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057187)

God damnit I fucking failed it.

I'm so fucking not first (1)

Ads are broken (718513) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057174)

told ya

How many are Slashdot readers? (5, Interesting)

badfrog (45310) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057175)

Wonder how many of spyware developers are regular Slashdot readers... Step forward, cowards!

Re:How many are Slashdot readers? (2, Insightful)

ExtremeGoatse! (778447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057282)

I work for a "banner ad" firm which will remain nameless for obvious reasons. Despite our "in your face" tactics, tracking cookies, and the sneaky ActiveX exploit installs, the programmers really are just regular people. The group of guys I work with are a lot of fun to be around and are extremely knowledgable in the field. Some people probably think we get a kick out of hijacking some poor guy's web browser, but seriously, we've all got a family to feed. In this day and time, with the programming jobs being sent overseas, I can't be picky anymore. I wish I could work some place where I spend my days programming to cure cancer, but I've got to take what I can get until the economy picks up! So go easy on me fellas, I'm just a joe blow programmer like you.

Re:How many are Slashdot readers? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057428)

You are not a programmer like me. You have no ethics or morals, and I don't care for your "have to feed my family" BS. Your morals are worth nothing if you only have them when the economy is good!

Re:How many are Slashdot readers? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057511)

You are not a programmer like me. You have no ethics or morals, and I don't care for your "have to feed my family" BS. Your morals are worth nothing if you only have them when the economy is good!

On the other hand, he has the balls to log in.

Re:How many are Slashdot readers? (2, Insightful)

rosie_bhjp (40538) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057595)

It's a troll account.

Re:How many are Slashdot readers? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057634)

It's a troll account.

And I bet he trolls everything which goes against his business i.e. Open Source, Adblockers, Linux, etc.

Interesting (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057180)

Actually based on an older article, but still an interesting analysis of those companies. (Cache, already getting slow for me [google.com] ).

Re:Interesting (2, Informative)

OAB_X (818333) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057200)

Note: not a cache above, but a pr0n site.

MOD PARENT UP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057206)

Scat porn gets a bad rap around here all the time... squares need to lighten up, relax, take in and enjoy the fecal goodness!

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057246)

Oh please, nice trick. The real cache is here [google.com] .

They just use standard FOSS philosphophy (5, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057192)

Information wants to be free. Your information.

Re:They just use standard FOSS philosphophy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057311)

My information just says "Suck my #*&%^!" if your lips are big enough....

Where's the part with the burning and the fires? (4, Funny)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057194)

The article is missing a critical piece...

where enraged citizens storm the building, set it on fire, seize the funds from the bank accounts and distribute to orphanages everywhere and leave the Adware staff tied up to lightpoles with a note for the police.

Re:Where's the part with the burning and the fires (3, Funny)

prtsoft (702850) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057205)

sounds good to me, where do you want to meet? ;)

Re:Where's the part with the burning and the fires (3, Funny)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057223)

Silly me! I forgot to mention the shackles and public humiliation...

Re:Where's the part with the burning and the fires (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057351)

Why stop at that? A mob like that would probably put their heads on a stake outside as a warning to others who would dare write more spyware.

Re:Where's the part with the burning and the fires (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057687)

... and wave, like this (wiggles fingers)

Re:Where's the part with the burning and the fires (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057235)

where enraged citizens storm the building, set it on fire, seize the funds from the bank accounts and distribute to orphanages everywhere and leave the Adware staff tied up to lightpoles with a note for the police.

Hmm. Kinda like my fantasy, which seems to involve a tricky hand gesture which magically transfers money from their bank account to my bank account. Of course, I don't mean to be rude, thus a tastefully worded thank-yew note is forwarded to them.

Ah.. to be Merlin for a day...

Re:Where's the part with the burning and the fires (1)

ddimas (629883) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057703)

I prefer nailing the windows and doors shut and then lighting the building up.
Recividism is thus kept to a minimum.

Dark. And noisy. (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057201)

> He says his company is committed to "transparency" and is making it easier for users to uninstall its software.

When pressed, he defined "easy" as "sorta like dipping your balls in sweet cream and squatting in a kitchen full of feral cats."

And you don't wanna know what "transparent" looked like.

Re:Dark. And noisy. (-1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057215)

Please, mod him up. And not funny, insigthful.

Re:Dark. And noisy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057231)

> Please, mod him up. And not funny, insigthful.

+1, Scary :)

Re:Dark. And noisy. (5, Insightful)

OAB_X (818333) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057236)

New steps to uninstall:

Add Remove programs -> spyware program -> uninstall window -> im sure i want to uninstall -> i dont want to reconcider -> i dont want to provide a reason for uninstalling -> im still really sure i want to uninstall -> yes i know some features maybe deactivated -> i dont want to install any companion programs -> i dont want to have programs from your sponsors installed either -> i dont want to have more msn smilies -> why do i need to go to a website to uninstall? -> i still want to uninsall reason: i hate spyware -> uninstall -> please wait while you download the uninstaller -> program uninstalled successfully, 5 more programs installed by uninstaller

Re:Dark. And noisy. (1)

ThJ (641955) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057525)

Why hasn't this been modded up? It's so true.

Re:Dark. And noisy. (2, Insightful)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057771)

You forgot "-> spyware program silently reinstalls itself on next boot"

Re:Dark. And noisy. (1)

eobanb (823187) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057349)

Transparent........hard to see. Hmmmmmmmm.

Re:Dark. And noisy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057415)

transparent, but the makers are not to be held responsible if said transparancy is coated in mud.

Re:Dark. And noisy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057606)

so is that the ??? in the three stage profit model?

I'm a newb (5, Funny)

ltbarcly (398259) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057207)

How do you install adware in debian? I tried apt-get install virus, apt-get install adware, apt-get install malware, nothing works. man, linux is crap

Re:I'm a newb (2, Insightful)

nkh (750837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057260)

The article explains that you don't need Adaware and other anti-spyware programs anymore on Windows, just go to http://www.mypctuneup.com/ [mypctuneup.com] and it will remove your spywares for free! I wish I still had a Windows machine to see how much adwares this web site would install...

Well... your machine already *is* infected... (1)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057437)

with a viral license...

Re:Well... your machine already *is* infected... (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057485)

No, no, he said he's running Debian! Not SCO!

Re:I'm a newb (1)

Devi0s (759123) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057682)

Troll? The parent is funny and advocates Linux use. Silly moderators...

Re:I'm a newb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057685)



Seeing that you've already install gpl software, one could argue that due to its 'viral' licensing scheme, you've already installed a virus :D

I bet.. (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057210)

I bet its like those car dealerships you see where everyone that works there is an ex-high-school jock with gigantic muscles they got from working out four hours a day, six days a week.

Well, except for the programmer that they made their bitch and is doing all the work for minimum wage.

The truth about Adware (5, Insightful)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057213)

This is good because it is completely amazing to me how the adware/spyware problem has received very little coverage in the media, certainly orders of magnitude less than the spam problem. We have seen many stories on /. over the last few weeks about how millions of Windows boxes are so infested with spyware that they are basically unusable, and yet most non-technical people still seem ambivalent.

If the same amount of effort currently used to fight spam is not applied to the spyware/adware situation, it will get just as bad if not worse than the spam problem.

As intrusive and annoying as spam is, at least it's influence doesn't extends past your email client. Spyware has the potential to totally screw up machines that do important tasks, which could be far more harmful.

Re:The truth about Adware (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057275)

Most importantly, the new law will make sure consumers can easily delete unwanted adware.

"By using our software, you agree not to remove our adware. We will occasionally scan your computer for its presence, and push an installation, which you cannot abort except by powering down your PC. This installation is already initiated by Our software, and you authorize it in full yadda yadda yadda..."

Surreptisoft standard licence agreement Section 84 Clause C subclause q paragraph 196

Re:The truth about Adware (1)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057423)

Actually, CNN was running a story a week ago or so (You know, that technology news dweeb they have with the spiked hair and black horn-rimed glasses and a stupid smirk).

The first time I caught it was on headline news. I was not very impressed and was waiting for the words "Internet Explorer" and "alterate browsers" to make an appearance. nope.

But then they ran the same story on the "American Morning" regular CNN and they actually had him live in addition to his taped segment. He was asked what you can do and he did actually say "Mozilla Firefox" to which Daryn Kagan [cnn.com] gave him a blank look and repeated "Mozilla Firefox?". He actually gave out www.mozilla.org and Daryn shrugged (like I'm going to go to some website looking for somthing I never heard of before).

Bill Hemmer seemed to know what he was talking about, though.

Re:The truth about Adware (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057457)

this guy [cnn.com] ? you forgot to mention his faggy soul-patch.

transcript of that segment is here

http://cnnstudentnews.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0411/29/ lol.04.html [cnn.com]

DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: You may not know about spyware, but let's start with something you probably know way too much about, those pesky pop-up ads.

(voice-over): The pop-up ad for the X10 camera, remember that? It was among the very first pop-up ads to really sweep the Web. For a while there in 2001, it popped up again and again and again.

(on camera): Back then, such ads were pretty new. To help illustrate how things have changed, imagine that this tennis racket like the cursor or the mouse on your screen and you're trying to close down those pop-up ads.

Well, initially, there was a start of slow, steady stream, annoying but still manageable. Then along came something called spyware, little software programs that would install themselves on your computer. And pretty soon, that slow, steady stream turned into a raging flood, a torrent, if you will, of pop-up ads popping up faster than you can close them down. A little help?

(voice-over): And that's no coincidence. Most spyware is adware, as in advertisements, pop-ups designed to force you to click on them. But other versions of spyware actually track you around the Web, reporting your movements back to third parties. Some spyware even records everything you type, including sensitive information. How does this stuff get on your computer in the first place?

Well, you get it just by surfing the Web. When you visit certain sites, spyware programs insert themselves on your machine.

(on camera): So how do you know if you've got it? Well, the truth is there's no easy way to know. Look around on your desktop and you're not going to find an icon for spyware. That's because the people who make spyware don't want you to know that it's there.

(voice-over): One big tippoff that your machine has been infected is it will start to run slower, freeze up or even crash frequently. A recent study found that nine out of 10 computers connected to the Internet have been compromised with spyware lots of times. Dozens of different spyware programs are running all at the same time.

We sat down with Mark Rasch, a lawyer and computer security expert with the company Solutionary (ph) to find out more.

(on camera): Now spyware, beyond just providing all these popup ads, you're saying that it collects information, it collects what I'm typing? What do they then do with that information?

MARK RASCH, COMPUTER SECURITY EXPERT: What we have created with the Internet is this whole market economy in personal information. It's very important for me to know what are you looking at? What are you buying? What are you not buying? What time of day are you surfing? Who are you? So there's a whole marketplace for information. And so, what the spyware is trying to do is collect that information and the people who are purveying it, trying to sell it.

SIEBERG: Actually, we have been tracked online since the early days of the Web through something called a cookie. Most company Web sites use them. Here's how they work. When you visit company x's Web site, a small file gets placed on your computer called a cookie which tracks your movement on that particular Web site and remembers like the links you clicked on and how long you were there.

Now once you leave that Web site, the cookie stays on your computer. But it doesn't report back on where else you go on the Web. Not so with spyware. It can follow you anywhere.

RASCH: So here we have a computer that's acting very sluggish and we don't know why.

SIEBERG (voice-over): We turned off the spyware filter on a computer in our office, then we ran some spyware scanning software to see what it picked up.

RASCH: So we'll run one of the programs here and see how many copies of spyware we have got on this machine.

SIEBERG (on camera): How many would you guess are on there?

RASCH: I would guess -- it has been running for about a day-and- a-half, I would guess probably around a thousand.

SIEBERG: A thousand different programs for files that are all trying to generate ads and get your information?

RASCH: That's right. So so far, in less six or seven seconds, it has got 211 different objects recognized and 44 running processes.

SIEBERG: It's just overwhelming it.

RASCH: And so what people end up doing is they end up buying new computers that they don't need simply because their old computers are just filled with this gunk.

SIEBERG: All right. So you have heard what spyare can do to you. But what can you do about spyware, the part we've all been waiting for. Well, you might want to change the Web browser you're using. It turns out that most spyware programs can only run on Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Now beyond that, you're going to have to roll up your sleeves and get some spyware-blocking or scanning programs. There are plenty of them out there like Adaware, Spybot, Spysweeper, also companies like Norton and McAfee have spyware upgrades for their anti-virus software. Lots to choose from. You're just going to have to search around a little.

The bottom line is that whichever one you choose, keep it updated and run it regularly, because spyware is likely here for the long haul.

Daniel Sieberg, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Re:The truth about Adware (1)

EddWo (180780) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057799)

Well he obviously doesn't really know what he's talking about. The 44 running processes is just a bit of information that Adaware gives you, it's not really related to how much spyware you've got, and its not as though he's picked up 44 processes that weren't there before since deactivating his antispyware. Windows XP starts with about 24 by default, then adding on a virus scanner is 3 or 4, a few system tray processes and a couple of applications open and you will easily be up to 44 without any spyware installed at all.

The other figure of 211 objects recognised will mostly be cookies, which he's already discussed as being relatively harmless. Stay up to date with patches and visit sensiblle websites, and cookies are the only thing you need to worry about.
As for over 1000 different programs in a few days, I think he's just trying to scare people.

Re:The truth about Adware (1)

zallus (714582) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057712)

Hmm... Alterate [energytools.biz] morning... sounds painful.

Re:The truth about Adware (1)

zallus (714582) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057729)

I know replying to myself is in bad taste, but I just have to laugh at what a brainfart substituting "morning" for "browser" is. I left the thing open for three minutes, mistake clearly visible between the xterm trim, and never noticed before sending. To correct: "Alterate browser [command-post.org] " is a search that'll actually get what you mean.

Re:The truth about Adware (1)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057780)

my 'n' key was taking a break, ok?

maybe I should have previewed, oh wait... :-p

Re:The truth about Adware (2, Interesting)

geekyMD (812672) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057483)

I think the shockingly absent outrage/response to adware has more to do with lack of awareness than anything else.

We all have gotten used to the idea of planned obselesence. From your car that is "old" after 3 years to your computer which was the absolute best until about 15 seconds after you bought it; most people expect their computers to run more slowly with time. And while popups suck, many people just don't really equate popups with adware. To them, its just "one of those things" that happen to PCs, especially when connect to that darned internet. I've worked in numerous offices that were about to buy a new set of PCs because their existing ones were "old and slow." After 30 minutes of AVG and SpySweeper they were amazed at the power of their "outdated" computer.

IMHO, Even when you include the viruses that go with spam, it seems like adware does much more to reduce producivity, hands down.

Alas, with SPAM we all see media 'orange alert's lasting for several days like:
"You computer will eat your first born and wreck your car if you open this email!!!"
But who has seen something like that for adware? How many people really know what it is or does?

We gotta get the word out! Alert the press! The baby eating, credit card stealing, nazi adware legions are headed straight for your comptuer! And if you don't uninstall them, Santa will be shot! That should wake some people up.

Re:The truth about Adware (1)

coopaq (601975) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057496)

We have seen many stories on /. over the last few weeks about how millions of Windows boxes are so infested with spyware that they are basically unusable, and yet most non-technical people still seem ambivalent.

Yes, but these are offspring of the same people who refused to change the oil in the their cars when they first came out.

Sooner or later the smoke will get their attention.

Lucky for us they are also the same kinda people who turn their comptures off for hours at a time.

feedback (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057227)

What happens when their own computers get infected with adware?

Re:feedback (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057249)

What happens when their own computers get infected with adware?

They probably reverse engineer it, figure out how it got there, and then incorporate that into their own adware. Seriously, you'd think these guys (at least the developers) would be pretty adept at keeping their machines clean.

The real question... (1, Funny)

ltbarcly (398259) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057240)

Does it run linux?

Re:The real question... (1)

Cyclone_TBW (812384) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057302)

Does it run linux? No, the real question is: Does it have a command line?

Worst part of adware... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057241)

If it was written correctly, it wouldn't be such a big deal. However, it causes computers to run very slowly and crash due to rampant bugs. I mean, can't they just add an ad toolbar to IE and be done? Do they really need to hijack the windows API to prevent themselves from being killed/removed?

How can they live with themselves? (3, Interesting)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057242)

I seriously question how these people can LIVE with themselves. Their products harass millions, slow down the worlds computers, and hurt the internet expirience. I could not stand to live with myself knowing I was screwing millions a day, an hour, a minute. These people MUST be heartless.

Re:How can they live with themselves? (1)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057719)

I seriously question how these people can LIVE with themselves. Their products harass millions, slow down the worlds computers, and hurt the internet expirience. I could not stand to live with myself knowing I was screwing millions a day, an hour, a minute. These people MUST be heartless.

Look, the guy in charge of Uzbekistan likes to boil to death people who disagree with him. And the US and the UK turn a blind eye because Uzbekistan is a friend in the war on terror. Perhaps you should get some perspective here.

Re:How can they live with themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057741)

The guys that cut this code are probably the kinds of geeks who justify it by thinking only *stupid* people get infected with this stuff, so they deserve what they get.

I hate malware. (3, Insightful)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057272)

I hate adware, and what we need to invent is some sort of adware realtime blacklist that contains all the IP addresses of adware companies. Then, all legitimate users could set up their firewall to disable access to and from any of these IP addresses. Then, the ISPs could completely disable access, and that would drastically cut down on the success of these illegitimate ventures.

Doing so could scare the spam authors, malware authors, virus authors, worm authors, spyware authors, and other illegitimate software authors into compliance with global IP standards, which will facilitate the streamlining of compelling enterprise solutions by content providers and emerging stewards of innovative technologies.

(If you didn't get the above then you need to do some critical thinking. It is composed in four layers and contains 12 hidden messages, 4 double meanings, and 9 psychological facts.)

Re:I hate malware. (2, Informative)

hsidhu (184286) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057358)

I use the list from remember.mine.nu, its updated regularly and here the line count for my /etc/hosts file.

$ wc -l /etc/hosts
32848 /etc/hosts

I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Hosts file + GUIDs (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057386)

does what you want. You use a hosts file (c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts, and no, I don't know why the fsck it's there either) to redirect IPs to the loopback addy (search around google, there's lots of good hosts files if you trust the poeple making them :) ). Combine that with a program like spywareblaster that registers Windows Globally Unique Identifiers (GUIDs) for known spyware. If your program's GUID is already registered, it won't install. Those two things + firefox + thunderbird + patches has kept even my Mom spyware free.

Re:Hosts file + GUIDs (1)

zallus (714582) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057762)

1. Connecting to 0.0.0.0 is caught by any good IP layer and immediately halted. 127.0.0.1 just results in a timeout. 2. I suppose "winsock" would be built in a POSIX-esque fashion, in Ye Olde Compliance Stabbe that MS seems to give every once in a while. However, either an over-precise standard, or lazy MS subsystem designers, have foisted an actual *nix tree into the \windows\system32\drivers folder. Makes me wonder about installing a kernel in there...

Re:I hate malware. (1)

WJMoore (830419) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057420)

Then, all legitimate users could set up their firewall to disable access to and from any of these IP addresses.

The solution can't involve users. They are the problem, just look at virus'. If a person must insist on using Windows they can keep quite safe by following a few simple rules and keeping a virus scanner up to date. Obviously this frequenctly doesn't always occur and worms etc. spread like wild fire when released.

Re:I hate malware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057484)

"I hate adware, and what we need to invent is some sort of adware realtime blacklist that contains all the IP addresses of adware companies. Then, all legitimate users could set up their firewall to disable access to and from any of these IP addresses. Then, the ISPs could completely disable access, and that would drastically cut down on the success of these illegitimate ventures.

Doing so could scare the spam authors, malware authors, virus authors, worm authors, spyware authors, and other illegitimate software authors into compliance with global IP standards, which will facilitate the streamlining of compelling enterprise solutions by content providers and emerging stewards of innovative technologies."



Your post advocates a

(*) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
(*) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
(*) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
(*) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
(*) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
(*) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
( ) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
(*) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
(*) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(*) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
(*) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
(*) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.

DOH (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057654)

And they'd start SPAMMING the list by adding legitimate IP's. Why you think the garbage text below SPAM was created? To bombard the anti-spam bayesian filters. You think they'd be stupid enough NOT to do anything against a malware blacklist?

Re:I hate malware. (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057764)

what we need to invent is some sort of adware realtime blacklist that contains all the IP addresses of adware companies.

Yeah, that would be great... It's too bad everyone on the face of the frickin planet didn't already come up with this idea before now, and publish thousands upon thousands of different blocklists just for this purpose....

Oh wait, THEY DID.

Google CEO ? (2, Interesting)

SoLO (91992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057291)

Earlier this year, Direct Revenue raised $20 million from New York based Insight Venture Partners. The respected VC company boasts Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin on its advisory board.


Wonder if this is some kind of conflict of interest?

It concerns us.... (the military) (4, Insightful)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057297)

We constantly have a nightmare about people on our network installing spyware (we're half green suit/half civilian). Some day, some enterprising young person will create spyware with a key logger phoning home passwords galore. We already had a problem with HotBar clogging our pipe.

Admittedly we are't suppoed to be discussing classified information but we deal with politically sensitive stuff all the time.

Re:It concerns us.... (the military) (1)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057326)

When I worked as an intern for the DOD over the summer at a base in NJ, no classified computer was allowed to be connected to the internet.

Re:It concerns us.... (the military) (1)

pizen (178182) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057396)

Just because it's not classified doesn't mean it isn't sensitive.

Re:It concerns us.... (the military) (2, Interesting)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057794)

I recently got a security clearance. Just because a single piece of information isn't classified doesn't mean it can't reveal classified information. That's the main fear.

As a simple example, assume some adware managed to steal an Excel spreadsheet as it was being entered. The information was simply the dates and costs of fuel being bought for vehicles on base. This information isn't classified.

From this information, you can get a rough guess of troop movements and the amount of mechanised gear at the base. Combined with more information, you can get a good idea of current strategy, what troops are going where, and the level of activity around a given base. This information is classified.

Just because a given computer isn't classified doesn't mean that you can't piece together classified information from data contained on the computer - especially when combined with other information. That's what the military is concerned about.

Re:It concerns us.... (the military) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057608)

Who would you have to talk to to get an SBIR [dtic.mil] solicitation out for more advanced spyware detection / removal methods?

The gawntlet was thrown long before . . . (0, Offtopic)

grahamkracker (73254) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057320)

The gantlet was thrown long before this beef turned into a global thermonuclear war . . .

Norms find it simpler to ignore the cancer that infests their everyday lives, even when it is proven to yes be this right here & yes it is killing you . . . . *blink* oh and while you live in squaller they are making millions . . .

fkcu, // kracker

* Pick a fight with yourself & win . . .
* bludgeon your face to spite yourself
* Altitude is nothin' compared to action

I die after this line, but i still want mine ... Eminem : Evil Deads (sry, the shadows told me to do it ... )

Stupid names (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057325)

Why is it that adware companies always come up with incredibly stupid names for themselves?

4 pages? (2, Funny)

Xeo 024 (755161) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057337)

it's a bit lengthy but a great read

Damn right it's a lengthy read. Anyone have the Cliff Notes for this?

Oops... (1)

The Wooden Badger (540258) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057343)

I thought it said ADAWARE

what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057360)

tl;dr

Just once... (1)

Frennzy (730093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057370)

Just once I want to be the guy who these fucktards approach to get 'my advertising' into their spyware model.

Just once. I'll string them along, until I've met all the most important players in their company.

Then...I'll post all of their details on /., and wait for the inevitable melee.

And, in the spirit of /.,

2.?????
3.Profit!

When Will AntiVirus remove it? (2, Interesting)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057373)

So, how can a piece of software that gets installed without permission on my machine, that sends out spam emails to everyone on earth be considered a worm/virus, but a piece of software I get installed without prompting, by visiting a fucking web page, that changes my hosts file, dns settings, proxy servers, and or nic drivers be considered adware?

When will Symantec, McAffee and the others start detecting and removing spyware. I've emailed them requesting that feature, and have never even gotten a response.

Honestly, at the school I work at, our public use library and labs have no problems except spyware. The 40 machines in our library average about a week before they are so bad that the systems have to be re-ghosted. Yes, I have netscape installed, and yes, its the default browser, but no, I can't remove IE, some services they need to use (other colleges in the area) have web pages that only work in IE. If freaking symantec would just treat adware as a virus, my god, I would love them.. and so would many others..

Re:When Will AntiVirus remove it? (1)

Bill_Royle (639563) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057406)

Symantec's v9 of their antivirus software does do this [symantec.com] (at least the corporate edition), but they do a piss-poor job of it. Of course, this keeps in line with their antivirus efforts, which suck as well. While it's decent at removing files, spyware references in the registry are regularly missed.

Re:When Will AntiVirus remove it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057427)

come on. i'm sure you can get linux installed if your spyware problem is that big... why not knoppix?? even easier..

Mod UP!!! A/V companies are p...... (1)

Chordonblue (585047) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057548)

I also work at a school and I'm wondering the same thing. Check out something like the VX2 spyware/trojan. It:

- Is often installed without user permission (using holes in IE/Windows)
- Has versions that restore themselves no matter how many anti-spyware proggies you use
- Does not register itself in add/remove programs

In our case, I don't care if the user installed something anyway - IT'S NOT THEIR COMPUTER! School computer policy says 'no unauthorized software is to be installed without permission...' I want my A/V program to do what we pay them to help us do - keep malicious software off our machines!

I've been going rounds with Sophos about this particular piece of crap (VX2). Somehow, this thing ended up on a machine here and NO software was directly installed. Evidentally, this was a 'drive-by' download. So, I ask Sophos, why ISN'T this a trojan virus? It has many of the same characteristics.

They then proceed to tell me that it serves a commercial purpose (advertising). So I replied with something like, 'Let me get this straight: I could take a virus like Netsky and create my own variant that serves pop-ups and that would be ok?'

That was two weeks ago. I still haven't gotten back a reply. The fact is - anti-virus companies are pussies (Yeah, I said PUSSIES! Feel free to step up Sophos/Grisoft/Symantec/McAfee, etc.)

I think they've had it pretty good - stopping would-be script kiddies and the like. But this is apparently a challenge that they can't or won't step up to. My suggestion? ALL you A/V companies should file lawsuits against the first spyware company that bitches. United, you'd have nothing to fear...

Re:When Will AntiVirus remove it? (1)

Cosslax (827713) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057563)

They don't do it in their anti-virus software because it makes them more money to release a seperate piece of software. That being said, Norton and McAfee both do sucessfully detect some malware apps and promptly fail at doing anything useful with them. Not saying much nowadays anyways, half the spyware I clean off computers at work doesn't show up on any scanners anyhow.

Re:When Will AntiVirus remove it? (2, Informative)

wronski (821189) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057584)

I use a free crapware blocker (Adaware [lavasoftusa.com] ) and a couple of very simple registry utilities [mlin.net] that prevent anyone from setting a registry key without my permission. Not at all bulletproof, but it works for me.

Re:When Will AntiVirus remove it? (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057666)

Why dont you force a transparent proxy to make sure ALL IE requests are BANNED except for the websites that are NEEDED to be used by IE. And let mozilla requests go thru.

That will fix all , also you should install MYIE, its a wrapper app for the IE engine, could be safer.

Re:When Will AntiVirus remove it? (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057798)

A good alternative to re-ghosting every week would be Deep Freeze [faronics.com] . Once it is installed, a simple reboot erases any changes the users have made to the system... including installing spyware, moving icons, or deleting files.

Re:When Will AntiVirus remove it? (1)

zallus (714582) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057810)

You might be interested in a Windows program that allows the same "daily fresh start" that having your permanent OS be a live-cd gives: DeepFreeze [faronics.com] . Nice little software, starts intercepting writes to the drive at NTLDR, I believe. You can allow a password-less administrator account if you want; as long as no one gets the program password, the system will come back up in a digital Groundhog's Day of cleanliness. Protects all the way down to a low-level format while the OS is running. (Note: I don't work for these people, but I've seen this in use, and it's quite nice.)

Adware and Spyware are making me money (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057379)

Yeah, it is. And I hate it. I hate having to take people's money to clean this shit off their computers; I would rather be deploying servers or upgrading home PCs for the holidays. But I'm not.

People get infected so easily because the just don't understand. Your average joe doesn't know the difference between virii and spyware; They don't understand that Norton Antivirus doesn't block this stuff too ( though they're starting to try ); They don't realize that IE's swiss cheese-like security is what allows most of this stuff on their system. While I spend a lot of my time cleaning spyware of my customer's computers, I also try to take the time to educate them. I show them the Adaware and Spybot icons. I run through them once with the customer to make sure they understand how to perform updates. I explain the new Firefox icon and how they should always always always use it, unless the site refuses to load without IE. I explain why Norton didn't stop it, and why the firewall didn't help. Folks just hear a lot of buzzwords like these and they just store the basic meme "Firewall=Safe" or "Antivirus=No Infection".

It shouldn't have to be this way. But it is, and I'm profiting from it. That makes me feel dirty in a way, even though I'm not the asshole clogging up the works.

Re:Adware and Spyware are making me money (4, Insightful)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057678)

Same here though I don't feel dirty doing it.. I'm doing them a favour. Better to pay me to clean up their machine than to go and buy a new one because of software issues.

Most times I've only had to see people once. It's very disheartening though, when two weeks later, the same customer comes back, riddled with viruses and spyware.

Me: "where's the programs I installed? Sygate? Ad-aware? Avg?"

Customer: "umm, I guess we uninstalled them.. kazaa wasn't working right."

Me: "fine, $60, we'll try again."

I don't think I'm long for this game anymore. Users can be very draining on your spirit. Really bugs me that I've had no problems with my 10 machines in 7 years or so.

Installing Solaris (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057429)

Is it supposed to take hours for the installer to load and then crash?

I worked for an adware company... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057444)

It was just like any other company except for the baby killing.

What I want to know... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057446)

Consumer advocates familiar with the company charge that Direct Revenue has engaged in an array of unethical practices: it secretly installs its software onto computers, designs its adware so that it reinstalls after users delete it and has changed its name so often that frustrated users can't find the company to complain.

...is if their business model includes such practices, how do they get around many states anti-hacking laws? In several states it is a felony computer crime to install software onto people's computers without permission. Most Adware companies get around this by a "click-through" license but it was not mentioned in the article if Direct Revenue uses such.

Even with a click-through license I would love to hear them explain to a judge their justification for automatic reinstallation after a user deletes it.

Kill em all (3, Insightful)

bogie (31020) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057471)

I don't care if God sorts them out.

As I type this I'm about to finally sit down for a movie after spending hours on yet on spyware/adware infested PC. I'm just tired of it. As much as I hate those scumbags who put out adware etc I have to once again question. What the fuck was Microsoft thinking waiting until summer 2004 to deal with the problem? Oh and the other 50% of Windows users on this planet who are not running XP with SP2? They're just as screwed now as they were before.

Re:Kill em all (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057646)

Oh and the other 50% of Windows users on this planet who are not running XP with SP2? They're just as screwed now as they were before.

Well I don't run it on half of my machines because they have so many programs the installer doesn't complete. But I do install all other updates as soon as they come in. I would guess a lot of the "smarter people" who don't run SP2 also have this probllem. But of course there is the stupud 47.5%

Talk, talk, talk. (2, Insightful)

BillX (307153) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057509)

"Abram [Direct Revenue] recently backed that claim with a letter to Congressman Joe Barton of Texas urging passage of H.R. 2929, "The Spy Act," a bill that would require adware companies to get explicit permission from users to place software onto their machines and to allow users to easily uninstall those programs. Abram says his company and the industry have not met this goal yet, but they are moving in the right direction."

Really, does it take more effort to write a letter to a congressman, or to add one sentence to the beginning of an EULA? Or to code, for that matter? Here guys, let's make life easy on you:

/* Super secret proprietary adware code - please don't steal and copy into your own software */

wantmalware=Application->MessageBox("I would like to spy on you, slow your PC and pop ads in your face all day long. Is this OK?", NULL, MB_YESNO);

My poor little fingers, they are cramping up already.

give me a break (2, Insightful)

tempny (602740) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057576)

According to the article, these companies are "working" on making their glorified viruses less intrusive and easy to uninstall. Amazingly, the article never points out just how bullshit this is. Anyone who has ever worked on commercial software knows that it is trivial to let the user remove your program (automated installshield or something of the sort). Even if you don't want to bother with that, the user should always be able to just kill the process and delete the executables. However, it's certainly not easy to actively prevent the user from stopping or removing your software, and especially to automatically and invisibly reinstall upon removal. Yet these companies are "working" on making their programs removable? How stupid do they think we are?

Re:give me a break (1)

malfunct (120790) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057815)

While I agree that the adware companies are taking giant leaps to make thier software uninstallable it is also a misconception that making software uninstallable is trivial. Its especially hard when the software decides to link into the network chain when it is well know that due to a bug in windows you bork things when you try to remove yourself from the chain.

Where is the class-action lawsuit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057610)

With as much unauthorized computer trespassing and usage is going on, I'm left wondering why a lawyer hasn't sued yet.

The lost cpu cycles and kilowatt hours of millions of users must add up to a large sum to sue for via class-action. With a jury it would be a slam dunk trial. I don't like lawyers, but at least the vial filth of the spyware companies that made money by installing onto your machine via a security hole don't get anything.

Lengthy? (1)

acvh (120205) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057717)

four pages of three sentence paragraphs is LENGTHY?

Business Model Relies on Deception (1)

c0dedude (587568) | more than 9 years ago | (#11057809)

Do they really think, given the costs and benefits clearly laid out, that any consumer would choose to install adware?
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