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Old 04-30-2004, 10:22 AM   #1
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House probes "Spyware" computer threat

Anyone else have this problem!? I don't know how to get this off my computer. But it's good to know my elective representatives are on the job.



House probes threat posed by spyware


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Matthew Daly



April 30, 2004 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's the newest computer security problem to attract the attention of Congress: spyware, or software designed to collect computer users' personal data without their knowledge.

Secretly piggybacking on downloaded Internet software, spyware transmits information about computer usage and generates pop-up advertisements and other annoyances. It often is difficult to uninstall.


Little known a few years ago, spyware is now so common that many consider it the biggest problem for Internet users since spam.

Microsoft estimates spyware is responsible for half of all PC crashes and warns that it has become a multimillion-dollar support issue for computer makers, Internet service providers and technicians.






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In some cases, it makes a computer unusable.

A research lab in Washington state found one of its computers ``hijacked'' by pop-up ads, to the point where "we couldn't do anything,'' said Patrick Clapshaw, the lab's director.

After a week of frustration and several visits by technicians, the problem was eventually solved, but not before causing at least $500 worth of lost data and downtime.

Clapshaw, of Kirkland, Wash., calls spyware worse than spam.

"To me, this is an aggressive computer takeover,'' he said. ``It's the difference between someone dropping fliers on your front porch, or walking around your house following you and annoying you.''

Members of Congress are taking the threat seriously. At least three bills have been introduced to address the problem, with more likely to follow.

"There is no more pernicious, intrusive activity going on in the Internet today'' than spyware, said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

At a hearing Thursday before the panel's subcommittee on commerce, trade and consumer protection, computer makers and user groups urged Congress to address deceptive behavior, rather than ban categories of software. Citing a new Utah law, the groups said broad legislation could end up prohibiting legitimate practices and stifle innovation.

Members of the Federal Trade Commission also urged caution as officials learn more about the problem and the best way to combat it.

"I do not believe legislation is the answer at this time,'' said commission member Mozelle Thompson. "Instead, we should give industry the time to respond. Self-regulation combined with enforcement of existing laws might be the best way to go.''

The go-slow approach infuriated Barton, who said he intends to push a spyware bill through his committee -- and the full House -- this year.

"You like this stuff? You're the only person in this country that wants spyware on their computer,'' he told Howard Beales, the FTC's consumer protection chief.

Barton urged FTC officials to work with the committee to draft a new law ``instead of trying to defend something that's indefensible.''

Beales said the FTC considers spyware a problem, but wants to make sure that legislation targets deceptive behavior while allowing legitimate uses. Some proposed solutions, such as requiring permission every time a user downloads a new program, ``would make the process of installing new software extremely tedious,'' Beales said.
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Old 04-30-2004, 10:52 AM   #2
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Adware 6.0
Spybot Search & Destroy

If Congress acts, the solution may not be completely satisfying. Just look at the Can-Spam Act.
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Old 04-30-2004, 11:25 AM   #3
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What the hell are legitimate uses?
Congratulations Howard Beales. You are a dumbarse.
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Old 04-30-2004, 12:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Angela Harlem
What the hell are legitimate uses?
Congratulations Howard Beales. You are a dumbarse.
Isn't that the truth. Man, I just love figuring out how to get this off of my computer. I had the worst time getting rid of the infamous "Weatherbug" spyware. Folks, do *not* download that program! You'll hate yourself when it nukes your modem!
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Old 04-30-2004, 12:49 PM   #5
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Keep in mind that spyware, however noxious, is part of the internet economy that keeps the bulk of internet content "free".
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Old 04-30-2004, 01:10 PM   #6
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What nbc said. As annoying as it is, it's just part of being online. I get calls about spyware EVERY DAY at work from angry students and employees and I have to tell them that when they sign up for our internet service, they need to read our instructions, not just check the boxes. Protecting yourself form spyware and viruses is just part of our modern technological responsibilities.
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Old 04-30-2004, 05:26 PM   #7
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LiveLuv, hi! Sounds like you know about this?

I don't remember downloading it. Can it be downloaded automatically? How do I delete it, do you know? It is safe to delete it? It's been telling me I NEED to have it because OHMYGOD I have a virus, which is not the case since I just updated and ran Norton.

Any expertise you have would be appreciated.

And NBC, quit being so reasonable.



sd
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Old 04-30-2004, 05:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Adware 6.0
Spybot Search & Destroy
You need to run Hijack This first, generally, then proceed from there (deleting items, then rebooting in safe mode, etc). There is no point to go into Adware and Spybot until you've done those things first or it may pop up again (ie. it remains in your invisible files).

I HATE those things.
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Old 05-01-2004, 01:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sherry Darling
LiveLuv, hi! Sounds like you know about this?

I don't remember downloading it. Can it be downloaded automatically? How do I delete it, do you know? It is safe to delete it? It's been telling me I NEED to have it because OHMYGOD I have a virus, which is not the case since I just updated and ran Norton.

Any expertise you have would be appreciated.

Yeah, I'm a computer tech. What's telling you you have a virus? If you get pop-ups or e-mails saying so, that's bullshit. However, it IS possible for you to have a virus and for Norton not to catch it. If the virus is running when you do the scan, it can't be quarantined or deleted. You might want to run another scan in Safe Mode just to be sure.

If you're dealing w/ spyware, adware, and pop-ups, I'd download Spybot and run that. Let it delete anything it finds. Then, you can install the Google toolbar. This is handy b/c you don't have to go to Google everytime you want to search AND it has a pop-up blocker. Just go to www.google.com > More... > Toolbar (bottom of page).

Earlier this week I spent over an hour in a Prof's office b/c he had so much spyware, he couldn't even get IE to go to the site where he could download spybot.
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Old 05-01-2004, 07:33 AM   #10
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Combatting spyware has become as necessary as having an antivirus program. The good news is that many of these "free" programs that contain spyware can have those packages removed and still function.

BTW, if you want an ironic twist, the "Google Toolbar" is spyware itself.

Quote:
Google's toolbar is spyware:
With the advanced features enabled, Google's free toolbar for Explorer phones home with every page you surf, and yes, it reads your cookie too. Their privacy policy confesses this, but that's only because Alexa lost a class-action lawsuit when their toolbar did the same thing, and their privacy policy failed to explain this. Worse yet, Google's toolbar updates to new versions quietly, and without asking. This means that if you have the toolbar installed, Google essentially has complete access to your hard disk every time you connect to Google (which is many times a day). Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you'd like an updated version. But not Google. Any software that updates automatically presents a massive security risk.
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Old 05-01-2004, 08:22 PM   #11
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Originally posted by verte76
Isn't that the truth. Man, I just love figuring out how to get this off of my computer. I had the worst time getting rid of the infamous "Weatherbug" spyware. Folks, do *not* download that program! You'll hate yourself when it nukes your modem!
Glad I caught this yesterday...I told my dad about this and he got rid of the WeatherBug thing. Unfortunately, a few viruses did manage to get through before we disabled it, so now we're working to get rid of those. But I just wanted to say thanks for the heads up so we and others can remember that and avoid this hassle yet again. .

Angela
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Old 05-02-2004, 10:12 AM   #12
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I just got hit with a virus. Ugh! I'm having to type some of my Word files back in manually. Computers are great when they work. When they don't, they're a pain.
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Old 05-02-2004, 04:58 PM   #13
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That's the Verte we all know

Sorry about the virus.
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Old 05-02-2004, 07:31 PM   #14
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I just typed a sixteen-page history of the Czechs I wrote years ago back in. It took me all day. Now I can start on my medieval France files. I'll get them finished one of these centuries.
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Old 05-02-2004, 08:19 PM   #15
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Aw, poor verte. .

Viruses are evil.

Angela
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