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More Badware

Posted on November 29, 2006 - 13:20 by colson

We just released two new reports yesterday for FreeWire and Puzzle Desktop. Puzzle Desktop is advertised as an application that give users access to Sudoku and other games, but our testers were puzzled when the installed application didn't run. The adware that was installed along with Puzzle Desktop worked just fine, however, redirecting invalid web addresses to pseudo error pages. It also added an adult website link to our desktop, which was certainly unexpected -- both because the program never asked if we wanted such a link, and because "puzzles" and "free Sudoku" aren't really the sort of thing that one naturally associates with "porn." Not cool.

FreeWire, on the other hand, is an open source peer-to-peer application that runs off the Gnutella engine. Although it "discloses" some of the bundled badware that it installs, most of it is installed without the user's knowledge. Even the "disclosed" badware isn't really disclosed, however -- the program lets you choose whether to install 180Solutions, for example, but it doesn't tell you what 1800Solutions will do (hint: pester you with pop-up ads). In the end, installing FreeWire will leave you with a lot of adware, Trojan horses, and other unpleasant stuff, and without any way to get rid of most of it.

FTC Shuts Down Team Taylor Made

Posted on November 15, 2006 - 16:18 by colson

The FTC has just informed us that they've successfully shut down Team Taylor Made and
the sites it was affiliated with (check out the FTC's press release here).
You may remember Team Taylor Made from our report on the
Jessica Simpson Screensaver,
one of the worst pieces of badware we'd ever seen.

Now, the U.S. District Court in Nevada has issued a
temporary restraining order against
Team Taylor Made and ERG Ventures, and the FTC is seeking a permanent injunction against them.
Our report on the Jessica Simpson Screensaver was included as an attachment in the FTC's application
for a temporary restraining order. Here's what Professor John Palfrey,
co-director of StopBadware.org and executive director of the Berkman Center has to say:

"The action by the U.S. District Court against ERG Ventures is proof that consumers have an effective
voice in the fight against badware. StopBadware.org's report on Team Taylor Made (an ERG affiliate),
released in May, and the subsequent news coverage that followed, should have put them on notice.
However, ERG continued to operate deceptively despite our efforts to get them to change their ways."

"StopBadware.org applauds the FTC for their efforts, as well as today's decision by the Court, to put a stop to ERG's ability to knowingly distribute malicious software to consumers."

Click for StopBadware.org's press release
Click for article 'Computerworld: Microsoft files suit against spyware organization'

Badware caught by StopBadware discussion group

Posted on November 13, 2006 - 13:43 by colson

StopBadware released an in-depth report on Fake-Mailer last week. Fake-Mailer was brought to our attention by one of the users who posts on the StopBadware Google group. After testing the application, we were able to verify the badware behavior that the user had experienced and create a report to warn others.

This report is yet another example of how user support helps us be more effective in our attempts to increase awareness of potential threats that lurk on the internet and to help people make informed choices about their activities on the web. The StopBadware team appreciates all user input, leads, and feedback, and we'd love to encourage even more users to join in this effort. One of the ways that you can help is by sharing your experiences with badware or bad websites using our submission website. Thanks for all your help!

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