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Re: probably what Jim's friend had-- MS revisied again

I have a spyware problem.  It has disabled Explorer and changed my home
page.  I haven't been able to surf for over a week.  I outsmarted it though.
In safemode I downloaded Mozilla and it's now my browser of choice.  I can
now surf freely again.

David Franzman
A Touch of the Tropics
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Donna" <justme@prairieinet.net>
To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
Sent: Friday, July 02, 2004 4:09 PM
Subject: [CHAT] probably what Jim's friend had-- MS revisied again

> Kind of a long story-- but if your computer is doing this... you might
want to see this blib from June 14th..
> Donna
> > Silicon Insider: Spyware
> >
> >
> > Source: ABCNews.com
> >
> > Hundreds of thousands of people opened their computer browser today to
> what they thought was their home page - and instead saw the page for
> iSearch, a computer "spyware" program that has hijacked their computer.
> >
> > Thank you Fidelity Investments. Thank you TD Waterhouse. Thank you
> Business Week Online. And thank you every other company that helps pay
> for this extortion. [Editor's Note: Since publication of this article on
> May 20, Fidelity and TD Waterhouse have taken action; see explanation
> below].
> >
> > You've probably heard of spyware, virus-like programs that are
> unknowingly downloaded by Web users. Spyware comes in several virulent
> forms. One notorious type, evil cousins of subscription sites like AOL
> and MSN, enable unknown predators to tap into your computer and gain
> access to private files.
> >
> > This is the type of spyware that gets the most attention from media,
> and has been the source of some pending bills in Congress and various
> statehouses. It was also the fear of just such intrusive spyware that
> led to the backlash a couple weeks ago against Google's proposed GMail
> service.
> >
> > iSearch represents another type of spyware, one that is more subtle, but
ultimately no less destructive.
> >
> > Trapped in Spyware Hell
> >
> > iSearch works something like this: Some time during the course of
> surfing the Web, you unknowingly trip over the iSearch applet, which is
> instantly downloaded - without your knowing it - into your computer.
> >
> > This program then does two things: 1) It orders your computer to
> permanently switch to .iSearch.com as your new home page, and 2) Covers
> its tracks, so that you can't simply go into your computer's utilities
> and replace it. You are now trapped.
> >
> > The next time you go on the Web, expecting to see Google or Yahoo! or
> ABCNEWS.com as your home page, up pops the iSearch home page. There's
> also an iSearch toolbar on the top of your page. "What the H*$*?" you
> mutter, figuring it's a mistake, and go on with your business - noting,
> with growing annoyance that suddenly you are getting a whole bunch of
> new pop-ups about stopping spyware, spam, etc. About the fifth time this
> happens, you get furious, and try to use your computer's Internet Tools
> window to reset your home page. That's when you are stunned to discover
> that it won't work. So you go to Google and type in "iSearch toolbar
> removal" - and up pops 2200 results, most of them filled with angry
> people in the same predicament as you demanding, even pleading, for
> information on how to get iSearch off their computers..
> >
> > So you go back to the iSearch home page. Perhaps there's something
> there. It's the standard search page: a column of "top searches" sites
> on the left, a grid of search categories (auto, finance, gambling, etc.)
> covering the rest of the page. You notice that on the "top searches"
> items list, the first four are "uninstall software", "anti-virus", "stop
> pop-ups" and "clean PC". There we go.
> >
> > You click on "uninstall software", and get linked to Uninstaller.com,
> which will sell you a software program of that name for $29.95. Next you
> type "anti-virus" and get an eerily similar site, virushunter.com, which
> offers to sell you its software - for $29.95. Ditto for pop-up blocker.
> >
> > Now you are desperate. Back to Google and onto one of those bulletin
> boards about uninstalling iSearch. There you find one recommendation
> after another for anti-virus programs you can use ... only to learn a
> few messages later than the iSearch browser will not allow access to
> those programs.
> >
> > You are trapped. iSearch holds the cards. It is the equivalent of
> someone giving you smallpox, then dangling an ampule of the vaccine in
> front of you ... for only $29.95.
> >
> > In Search of iSearch
> >
> > I learned most of this from my television business partner Bob Grove,
> who, regular readers will remember, was my investigative reporter when I
> ran Forbes ASAP. He's the guy who broke the big story on Internet child
> porn that helped lead to a lot of the arrests you've read about the last
> couple years.
> >
> > I asked Bob to chase down iSearch. He was happy to do so - and
> motivated as well: iSearch has taken over his computer's browser too.
> Here's what Bob found.
> >
> > First, you probably won't be surprised to learn that when you go
> looking for iSearch there seems to be no there there. The Web site
> carries only an e-mail address, no physical address. However, doing a
> little research, Bob found that iSearch is actually owned by
> iDownload.com, based at 701 Brazos, Suite 500, Austin, Texas 78701 (any
> Austin reader of this column care to go by there and see if it is more
> than a mail drop?). iDownload has an 800 number, but if you call it you
> only get stuck in a phone mail tree.
> >
> > Now, would it come as any surprise to you to learn that iDownload not
> only owns iSearch, but also popupblocker.com, uninstaller.com and
> virushunter.com - and several other $29.95 specials? Probably not.
> >
> > But I'll bet you'd be surprised to learn that these products can be
> purchased with your Visa, Diners Club, MasterCard, and American Express
> cards - making them accessories to this scam. Or that iDownload is a
> member of the Better Business Bureau Online Reliability Program (thank
> you BBB!)
> >
> > Oh, but it doesn't end there Go back to the iSearch home page - like
> you have any choice - and click on some of the other "top searches,"
> which no doubt, like the first four, are paying advertisers. Try
> "investing." What names pop up? Fidelity Investments, TD Waterhouse,
> Business Week Online. ...
> >
> > Rotten, But Not Illegal
> >
> > What are these reputable (or so we thought) organizations doing there?
> There are only three possibilities. First, iSearch is using those names
> without permission - in which case, who is minding the store? Second,
> those firms bought placement on iSearch, not knowing what it was - in
> which case, where is the oversight? Or third, those firms bought
> placement on iSearch knowing full well what they were doing - which is
> despicable.
> >
> > The next time you want to invest your 401(k) money in Fidelity, or you
> buy stock through TD Waterhouse, or having any dealings with any of the
> other outfits listed on iSearch, you might want to remember what kind of
> business they are consorting with.
> >
> > OK, this whole thing is rotten, but is it illegal?
> >
> > As far as I can tell, not yet. At least it is not criminal. And that
> should make you give serious thought to contacting your state and
> national representatives in support of anti-spyware legislation.
> >
> > In the meantime, one would think that those companies who are
> supporting the iSearches of the world with their advertising (or
> financial services), would pull out or, better yet, bring action against
> them.
> >
> > They should be joined in that civil suit by Google, Yahoo!,
> ABCNEWS.com, CNN.com, Drudge and every other popular homepage site that
> is seeing its revenues and traffic hijacked by iSearch and its ilk.
> >
> > And the thousands of poor victims of this shakedown - what is their
> remedy? Google back to "Uninstall iSearch toolbar" and keep reading the
> suggested fixes. I can't recommend any of them here - for fear that
> iSearch will quickly move to block them.
> >
> > Editor's Note - Fidelity responds regarding efforts to have its name
> removed from iSearch: "Once we became aware of iSearch, we took
> immediate action to get our name off of their site. We were informed
> this morning [5/21] in writing by the Overture network that iSearch has
> removed our name from their site. While the Web site will still produce
> our name in an "organic" search, (which we cannot control), we no longer
> appear as a preferred link. As an additional precaution, we are
> exploring search engine networks with whom we work to confirm that they
> do not include companies like iSearch. ... [W]e are very concerned about
> spyware and are supportive of efforts to develop effective anti-spyware
> laws."
> >
> > Also, on May 24, a TD Waterhouse respresentative responded: "Please
> know I have been told that we have instructed Overture to stop running
> our ads immediately."
> >
> > In addition, Overture itself wrote: "Overture carefully screens our
> distribution partners and has a formal policy in place that requires
> partners that offer downloadable software to adhere to high standards of
> notice, privacy and ease of removal for users. In addition, we require
> our partners to obtain the user's explicit consent to the terms of the
> agreement and be forthcoming in their terms of service. iSearch is not
> and has never been an approved partner of the company. We promptly
> investigated after learning of this issue and determined that iSearch
> wrongfully obtained access to our listings. Based on our investigation,
> we promptly terminated iSearch's unauthorized access and will take other
> steps, if necessary, to protect the experience of both our users and
> advertisers.
> >
> > Michael S. Malone, once called "the Boswell of Silicon Valley," most
> recently was editor-at-large of Forbes ASAP magazine. His work as the
> nation's first daily high-tech reporter at the San Jose Mercury-News
> sparked the writing of his critically acclaimed The Big Score: The
> Billion Dollar Story of Silicon Valley, which went on to become a public
> TV series. He has written several other highly praised business books
> and a novel about Silicon Valley, where he was raised.
> >
> > To see more on this story, go to http://www.ABCNews.go.com
> >
> > Copyright 2004 ABCNEWS.com. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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