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December 10, 2002

Spycop

SpyCop is the leading solution for finding computer monitoring spy programs, keyloggers, and commercially available software designed specifically to record your screen, email, passwords and much more! SpyCop will detect the spy, tell you when it was installed, and optionally disable it! SpyCop can find over 310 spy programs!

SpyCop, which normally retails for $69.95 is available to SpywareInfo visitors for 20% off the regular price! To receive this deal, you must enter the following coupon code on the Confirmation page of the order process. SPYW-FMPK-DECA. You must enter this code, or you will not receive the 20% discount. This offer ends December 18.

IT'S YOUR PRIVACY, ORDER NOW!

This special discount applies to all Spycop products, including Evidence Terminator.

Adventures In Broadband

Those who have been following my ISP saga know that last week I ordered DIRECWAY internet service to replace the horrible dialup internet access which I have now. The connection is getting worse, and it's so bad now that sometimes I literally can't even check email because the connection drops so fast. I'm taking a risk sending this newsletter out, because if it drops the connection in the middle of sending it out, I'll have to start over from the beginning. :(

For those who have signed up for The Harvester Project, but haven't been linked yet, I haven't forgotten about you. I just haven't had a chance to update the page because of this connection. Most of the web site is being neglected while I wait for my broadband to get connected.

Well, I placed the order, spent six hundred dollars ( !!! ), got my confirmation email, and now I'm just waiting on them to install everything. Unfortunately, a full week after placing my order the service is not only still not installed, but I have yet to pin them down on when they will install it.

You see, it's not Direcway that's installing the equipment and getting it online. They've contracted that job out to Net Communications in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta is 250 miles from where I live, and it's a 3 hour drive both ways. Why they picked a company so far away to do this is baffling, but they did. And the contracted company doesn't seem to want to fulfill the contract.

I got tired of waiting for them to call me, so I called them. Direcway gave me the number to the contractor company and I called them up Monday. The first phone call yielded nothing but a broken promise of a call back. The second phone call was answered by a very nice lady, who very apologetically told me that none of the installation techs (or whatever they're called) were willing to drive all the way down here to install the equipment.

One week and six hundred dollars later, this is what I'm told when I ask where is the service I've paid for. When I heard that, I wanted to cancel my order right on the spot. Unfortunately, I'm stuck. If I cancel now, I get shafted with a very large "early termination" fee. This doesn't hold true for you however.

If you were thinking of ordering satellite broadband from Direcway, you might want to hold off until we see how Direcway handles this situation. The company refusing to install the service is not Direcway after all, it is the contractor which they hired to handle the installation. I'm sure Direcway would never handle a customer this way, and today I will be contacting them again and asking them to light a fire under their contractor.


Edit: After contacting Direcway and explaining the situation, Direcway took the contract from Net Communications and reassigned it to a much closer company, and I expect to have it hooked up either Friday or Tuesday. Way to go Direcway. :)


Before you run out and order Direcway service, you might as well follow this real life example of how they choose to deal with their customers. Considering their reputation, I'm sure we'll resolve this problem tomorrow without a problem. In the meantime, Scot Finnie just reviewed Direcway's main competitor, Starband, in last night's issue of his newsletter. He seems to like it, and I wish I'd seen that issue before deciding on Direcway.

I'll keep everyone posted on how Direcway handles this issue, so check back next week (or just subscribe to the newsletter ;)

Misery Loves Company... Yeah Right

This week and for the rest of the month, I'm going to try and help out the author of another tech newsletter (or e-zine as he tends to call it). The troubles he's had with his former web host sound even worse than the problems I'm having with my ISP. He's out $300 bucks (at last count) and 400 brand-new subscribers due to an incompetent web host advertising services which it turned out they couldn't actually provide.

The Infopackets Gazette is a free tech newsletter for beginner and intermediate Windows users. Get the latest in Windows technology information and answers to frequently asked computer questions, free! The Infopackets Gazette features Hot Windows tips and tricks, frequently asked visitor feedback questions, and more! The author has over 20 years in computing experience.

It's a very interesting read and I think it's definitely worth checking out.

This Week's Discounted Software Title

SpyCop is the leading solution for finding computer monitoring spy programs, keyloggers, and commercially available software designed specifically to record your screen, email, passwords and much more!

SpyCop will detect the spy, tell you when it was installed, and optionally disable it! SpyCop can find over 310 spy programs!

Once you're our customer, you can update the spyware database with a simple click of the mouse. This will ensure SpyCop has the latest releases of spyware to search for.

Order today and received free software and database updates for life!

SpyCop, which normally retails for $69.95 is available to SpywareInfo visitors for 20% off the regular price! To receive this deal, you must enter the following coupon code on the Confirmation page of the order process. SPYW-FMPK-DECA. You must enter this code, or you will not receive the 20% discount. This offer ends December 18.

IT'S YOUR PRIVACY, ORDER NOW!

This special discount applies to all Spycop products, including Evidence Terminator.

Spyware Masquerading as Anti-Spyware?

A tale has been making the rounds of various privacy-oriented message boards about a piece of spyware removal software which might be spyware itself. I'm talking about "Spyware Nuker", a product made by Lion's Pride Enterprises. Lion's Pride is the company responsible for a program called wnad. Wnad was distributed last year by rankyou.com as a hidden popup-spawning module inside a game called "Yo Mama Osama". Supposedly the money generated by the popup spam was to go to The Red Cross to help with the WTC/Pentagon victim's fund, but I am unaware of any money being disbursed to this fund by Lion's Pride Enterprises or rankyou.com.

One post that I read at computing.net by someone who tested this software reports that the main executable of the program is compressed in an obscure format, making the source code unreadable. The poster also provided a snippet from the End User License Agreement (EULA).

From the EULA: "You acknowledge that "Trek Blue" may, at their sole discretion and for any purpose, provide updates, automatic or otherwise, to the "Trek Blue" Program(s) including but not limited to the advertising or other value-added software and technology."

"By installing, downloading, copying, updating or otherwise using the "Trek Blue" Program(s), you specifically agree to include and/or accept the noted software and technology through which "Trek Blue", its subsidiaries, affiliates, partners, divisions, and clients provide value-added upgrades and applications to your computer."

Judging by the EULA alone, certainly it is adware. Is this so-called spyware cleaner also spyware? Further testing should find out one way or the other.

Help keep SpywareInfo going! The SWI web site got over 120,000 visitors last month, and that many visitors uses up a lot of bandwidth. If you'd like to make a contribution to keep the bills paid, we have a PayPal account set up for just that purpose. http://www.spywareinfoforum.info/support.php

Roll your own Lop fix

There is yet another version of lop.com's software going around. This one had us scratching our heads for a bit trying to figure it out. It had somehow altered the autosearch settings of Internet Explorer, and it didn't revert back to normal behavior even after the rest of it had seemingly been removed. Thanks to a fellow named Tony Klein, we now know how to remove this autosearch problem, as well as most of the registry entries related to lop's software.

First, make a backup of your registry, either using system restore, or scanreg. If you don't know how to do this already, then don't bother with these instructions. Just wait a few days for Spybot S&D to update to deal with this and you won't need to play around in the registry.

Then, use a startup manager such as MSCONFIG or Startman to find an entry located in your Application Data folder that ends with -QuieT (with that exact mix of upper/lower cased letters). The name of the file itself will vary, but if it has that -QuieT switch at the end, that is lop. One example would be hozr = C:\DOCUME~1\MIKEDI~1\APPLIC~1\trstbfkl.exe -QuieT. ( see it)

Disable this startup entry. In Windows 9x/ME, type this in the run command and press enter: %WinDir%\Application Data. For NT/2K/XP, type this in the run command and press enter: %UserProfile%\Application Data. Find the file and delete it.

Next, copy the following to Notepad, and save as lop.reg. Right-click the file and select Merge. Answer 'yes' when asked whether you want the contents of lop.reg added to the registry, and reboot when you're done.

REGEDIT4

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{07C0D34D-11D7-43F7-832B-C6BB41726F5F}]

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{9B35A850-66AB-4c6d-8A66-136ECADCD904}]

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{D44B5436-B3E4-4595-B0E9-106690E70A58}]

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Proto.handler]

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\PROTOCOLS\Handler\ayb]

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Swish.BrowserHelper]

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Swish.BrowserHelper.1]

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Swish.ToolBand]

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Swish.ToolBand.1]

[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\TypeLib\{C65CAD7F-E382-4B90-95C6-89123D0AEE61}]

[-HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\explorer\Browser Helper Objects\{D44B5436-B3E4-4595-B0E9-106690E70A58}]

[-HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Backup]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters] "domain"=""

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\VxD\MSTCP] "domain"=""

This has worked numerous times in the past few days in fixing that annoying autosearch issue. Your mileage may vary, and while this should be safe, please do make a backup before trying this, or simply wait a few days for Spybot to update.

Is The Google Toolbar Spyware?

From time to time, someone asks why the Google search bar is not targeted as spyware. It works similarly to other toolbars which are targeted as spyware (Comet Cursor, Search-Explorer, Alexa, etc) by Ad-aware, Spybot, Aluria, and other spyware removal tools. Jamie Rosen, founder of Cometsystems (Comet Cursor) had this to say about it while trying to make the case that Comet Cursor should no longer be targeted by Ad-aware:

Google has a feature in its toolbar called page rank that ranks pages as you visit them. Not surprisingly, it requires the software to send every url you visit to google. That sounds alarming. But so long as you can turn it off and so long as the company makes it clear that it's not saving this information to profile you, it isn't necessarily an insidious thing. Some users want these so-called connected services -- they can be quite cool and useful.

Let me explain what is different about the Google toolbar that keeps it from being targeted as spyware like many other third party toolbars. Google uses its page rank system to make its search engine more useful, as opposed to using it to gather information about you to sell you tailored advertisements. You are not a source of income to Google.com, except as a site visitor looking at the same ads everyone else sees, toolbar or no toolbar.

Google goes to great lengths to explain that, in their own words, there may be privacy issues with some of the features, and provides an alternate download where those features are disabled. You have to go out of your way to find and activate those features. Contrast this behavior to some other toolbar makers who use activex to spread like trojans, gather statistical data on the user to present them with "more relevent special offers", forcibly reset browser settings, and make it damned hard to remove.

Google does make money on it in a roundabout way, because these features make their search engine more accurate and useful, which makes more people likely to use it and click the ads they sell on the site. The ads, by the way, are determined by the keywords you search for, NOT where you've been surfing, unlike many of the other toolbars. You'd see the same ads with or without the toolbar installed.

So, is the Google toolbar spyware? No, it is not.

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Program: Setup Scanner
Author: vbbitman
Size: 2.26MB
License: Free
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Polls

Results from last week's polls: (These polls are now locked)

What day of the week should the newsletter go out?

Sunday (9%)
Monday (0%)
Tuesday (54%)
Wednesday (18%)
Thursday (4%)
Friday (0%)
Saturday (9%)
You have a newsletter??? (4%)

Tuesday it is.


Would you buy a spyware-free version of a program that bundles spyware into its free version?

Yes (5%)
No (80%)
Not Sure (15%)

Final Ramblings

Last week, someone made me aware of a goof I'd made regarding my PayPal donation account. About two weeks ago I was fooling around with the settings and thought that I was setting a default "suggested" amount of $20.00. In fact, what I did was to set it to a "fixed" amount, locking in any donation to $20.00, without the option to change it.

Folks, I'm terribly sorry about that. I know times are rough just about everywhere and I know not everyone who wants to make a donation can afford to spend $20.00 on it. I'd take (and have taken) $1.00 donations and certainly didn't mean to set it to a fixed amount. If you went previously to make a donation, but was put off by the fixed amount, it's been changed now to accept any amount.

http://www.spywareinfoforum.info/support.php

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