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The Attack of the Advertiser

The menacing campaigns that drive the corporate spyware and adware market is developing way out of hand. Who are these companies and how do they get away with it? They are costing computer users millions with their sneakware system of promotional crap!

Jan 05, 2006

Spy Mother Spy

by Greg Richburg, Netricks, Inc.

The menacing campaigns that drive the corporate spyware and adware market is developing way out of hand. Who are these companies and how do they get away with it? They are costing computer users millions with their sneakware system of promotional crap!

We have some serious problems. These narcissistic bugger programmers that develop application and browser hijackers, pop-up pushers, adware scams and other bogus blots of code that only make life worse, need to be taught a lesson or two. They are like fleas, pesky taggers, used gum thrown on the pavement that you just stepped in, but way worse. And for what reason? Advertising?

The graffiti artist or “tagger” is trying to make a name for himself by either creative representation or pure mass distribution. Hey, you are all annoying, you are all vandals, but really, your destruction is trite. We are not afraid of you we just think your art is ugly.

Of course you can get some bug spray or clean your shoe, but these hijacks will cost you a whole lot more. Oh yeah, I have seen massive amounts of destruction brought about by malicious code, and I am not talking about viruses.

Let’s Reason

Truthfully, I think we need to intervene and get a hold of this situation. There are companies that produce “hijackers” for the sake of advertising. But that code has grown far too chaotic to serve as any means for honest advertising. I am hired every day to fix problems brought about by certain American corporate advertising campaigns.

Most of us have experienced the various “Trojans” that hijack your Internet browser start and search pages, changing them to some site that they are advertising for, let alone the formidable “about.blank” page. The Trojan then makes it difficult to change these setting back, often requiring Registry edits and special removal tools just so you can get back to easy Internet browsing.

Let’s look at some industry specifics.

One of the largest Adware agencies WhenU.com of New York, distributes its software piggybacked on popular “free” applications downloaded from the Internet. Once on your computer, it then distributes advertisements in the form of pop-ups to your desktop as you browse the Internet. Who’s to blame in this scenario, WhenU or its clients that actually pay WhenU to distribute their ads? Merck, T-Mobile, Priceline, Verizon, to name a few.

And mortgage brokers. I would say that 50% of all the spam I receive is based around some untrue promise about an enormously low interest rate for which I qualify. Strange, most of the junk mail I get in my street mailbox is the same crap. WHO FALLS FOR THIS? It must work if the junk keeps coming and coming.

I am not talking specifically about spam here, that is a story in itself, but I am talking about unfair marketing techniques that need to be controlled. We all see our fair share of mortgage company pop-ups, don’t’ we?

Give me the shotgun!

The worst of the worst are the various toolbar distributors that promise a better Internet experience. CoolWebSearch, Hotbar, WyWebSearch, and the horrid “My Search Assistant” which mutates itself if you try to uninstall it. How creepy is that? Every time you uninstall the hijacker, it places itself in a different spot on your computer and renames itself, so the next time you restart your PC, it re-installs. Trust me, the longer you keep this program on your system, the worse your system gets. More and more pop-ups which lead to more spyware and adware and the resolution is horrendous. Wipe and reload.

The Reverence

Bow down to the savior of smart computing. Learn to understand how your system gets infected. Learn to use the appropriate spyware and adware prevention programs and removal tools. Learn to get some help before it is too late. The difficult part if finding who to trust.
That’s where I come in.

Greg Richburg a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and the owner of Netricks, Inc. a network consulting, web design and hosting company in California. He also runs a web based distributorship for Ujena swimwear and clothing.

All past articles written by Greg Richburg are available at Netricks Tech News Articles. Please address article suggestions to: 1919@netricks.com.

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