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Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Who is behind StopBadware.Org?

I was recently asked by a company called IAC Interactive to review our WinPatrol PLUS decriptions of programs associated with their MyWebSearch toolbar.   I’m always happy to review our PLUS descriptions to make sure we’re providing users with useful information. It wasn’t a threat like we’ve gotten before, it was a request.

Most Anti-Spyware researchers have been critical of MyWebSearch tool bar.  I installed the latest MyWebSearch and quickly understood why.  I have no problems recommending our users remove this and its related programs as quickly as possible.

My first surprise was when I entered a search for “WinPatrol” using their search engine which claims to be a combination of Google, Yahoo, LookSmart and Ask.com. The first two entries were companies with fraud-ware that tricks users into thinking they were the popular SpyBot, Search & Destroy program.  When I checked my settings I found that boxes for Google, Yahoo and Looksmart were Off by default so only Ask.com was being used.

My next surprise came when I read the User License which basically said at sometime they would downloading additional FunWeb products like Smiley Central, Cursor Mania, Fun Buddy Icons, History Swatter, My Fun Cards, My Info, My Mail Notifier, My Mail Signature, My Mail Stamp, Popular Screensavers and something called Smotos. These programs weren’t initially installed when I downloaded the toolbar and there was never any mention of additional programs being installed with the toolbar. (Click here to read)


These new buttons and more appeared in Outlook
New buttons and more appeared in Outlook

The biggest surprise was when I checked out the management at IAC InterActive Corp.
Click here for Management Profiles. Board includes high-power folks like CEO Barry Diller, his wife, Edgar Bronfman, Jr.,  Gen. Schwarzkopf  and others.  At the top of its board listing is William H. Berkman. His profile says, “Mr. Berkman’s family established the Berkman Center For Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.” 

If the Berkman Center sounds familiar it’s because they led the initiative behind StopBadware.org
Last month StopBadware.org declared one of IAC’s programs called Zinky to be Badware (Click here). Now they say “Zwinky is not badware, although it does engage in behaviors that users should be aware of”. (Click here for more info) You decide for yourself if this is a conflict of interest.

Zwinky is a program geared towards kids and also installs the MyWebSearch complete package. Surprise again, the EULA for MyWebSearch says “You must be 13 years of age or older to register or to use the MyWebSearch toolbar”.

IAC Interactive has a huge stable of internet companies and services.
Click here for a list of IAC Businesses.   I’ve been happy with some of their other services so I hope they’ll drop their MyWebSearch and related products as quickly as possible.

 

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7 Comments:

Blogger TeMerc said...

Wow, this is very interesting indeed. How can they be affiliated with FunWeb and others and then do what they do with StopBadware.org?

Maybe a link to this write up needs to be posted over at the Stopbadware group.

Should provide for some interesting conversation, don't you think?

5:50 PM  
Blogger BillP said...

Well, I think the folks at StopBadware already know. While I have pointed out the high level connection I think there are some really good guys at StopBadware.org.

IAC are the ones who need to come with terms of what they're doing. By their definition, they're not spyware but the installation behavior and disclosure is unacceptable.

I couldn't fit all the information I wanted in today's post so you should expect a follow up.

9:11 PM  
Blogger paperghost said...

Interesting connection you made there.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An analysis of "all" large company board's of directors and shareholders will expose many well known faces of individuals. Searching for pension funds, mutual funds, banks, holding companies, and other institutional investors on the shareholders list will really give you something to ponder. But best of all, are the interlocking directorships. Most Board Members sit on multiple boards, at different companies. By following the list of company boards one director sits on, you will find other directors... Follow those directors to other company Boards, and more directors. When you have a hundred or more, draw links from one to another, and you will be amazed -- It begins to look like a silent conspiracy with no officially discussed plot, but with similar goals and objectives -- Including originating and promoting the very spam and intrusion software tactics they publicly say they firmly are apposed to. It gets fascinating when you link the clubs and associations these people -and- their wives belong to and it looks like the (You will never reach a point where you run out of boards and other interesting relationships that link on and on and ad-infinitum. These relationships seem to be a good case for believing in the "Six Points Of Separation" concept).

So what’s my point? Well, you might have been personally talking to; or listening to a speech from; or reading in a trade journal an article or review about one of your favorite people, someone you respect and admire -- someone who promotes and advocates laws that will reduce or eliminate all this crap that is infecting our computers, but, when you check out the board links you will find that collectively, your friend and his friends and other associates who sit on all these boards, represent an unofficial force via the Board of Directors unofficial and unspoken "Power Combine" consisting of many companies that have research and marketing departments, that originate the junk that infects our computers for the sole purpose of obtaining our private information for their own use, and/or for sharing/trading/selling to other companies, that continue the process of selling us more stuff ... by infiltrating our email and web browsing and online purchasing; intruding into our lives via direct postal-mail; and in our homes and offices and in our cars, via land-line and cell phones. And regarding the "nice" men and women sitting as board members (aka company directors) that we have all come to admire for their interest in and promotion of security and privacy issues that affect us all ... Well, they know perfectly well about the intrusive tactics companies use, because they approve policies presented to them at board meetings that authorize these tactics ... they approve them because the tactics are written in a way, and have terms and names that, disguise the "real" function of the policy or plea for funding presented to the board. Everyone signs away, then adjourns for high-tea, and a group photo for the trades. And on it goes ... ad-infinitum.

It takes a whistle-blower extraordinaire, with the guts of a gladiator to expose this system and the long accepted processes and people who wittingly and un-wittingly participate in its grand scheme.

Those interested and willing raise your right hand and repeat after me ....... "huh, your boss is coming?" ...well, perhaps another time..... ;-)

Viva La France!
DCStrain
SecurityHawk@clearwire.net
"Another Happy WinPatrol Plus User"

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These guys are retarded they flagging perfectly normal sites.

12:04 AM  
Blogger DaMav said...

FWIW I just found your site while trying to find a way to disable stopbadware.org from blocking sites at Google. I don't own a site, I am a google user. I've been on the internet for ten years.

I didn't request this "mommy" software, didn't knowingly download it or install it. I was searching political sites and suddenly hit several that it popped up on.

Maybe google learned something about site blocking from the Chinese? Of course google is our "friend" and would never ever selectively block sites dues to political content, right?

Sorry I don't buy that the folks at stopbadware.org are "good guys". They seem more akin to fascists. At least give me a chance to decide whether I want to be "protected". I suspect I'll be looking for one of the alternatives to google.

And no, I don't have an axe to grind. I don't personally HAVE a web site.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I also stumbled upon your blog while searching for a way to disable StopBadware. I ran across a forum where StopBadware was being discussed. Several posters noticed that conservative leaning website were listed as 'bad'. I'm not a Conservative but I find it VERY frightening when a large company like Google would be part of this.
This is a country of free speech and neither Google nor StopBadware should be allowed to filter out content based on what THEY believe. Total BS. I have used google and the google search bar for years.....I am deleting it pronto and will encourage everyone I know who believes in free speech and independent thought to do the same.
Welcome to the Nanny State :)

1:41 PM  

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