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A New Low for Web Advertisers: Pop-Up Downloads 656

Posted by timothy
from the measuring-new-lows-jinxes-us-all dept.
rizzmanix writes: "I thougt it was strange that I had been getting a lot of pop-up download prompts for the Gator software as I browsed around the web in the recent days. Why were all these sites requiring this Gator thing I wondered? Well I wonder no more... as apparently advertisers hit a new low by running 'pop-up downloads' instead of pop-up ads. Sneaky, underhanded, nasty and vile."
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A New Low for Web Advertisers: Pop-Up Downloads

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  • a followup link (Score:5, Informative)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:34AM (#3302852) Journal
    www.scumware.com
    • ...and a karma whoring followup link to Ad-Aware [cnet.com] (recently updated to v. 5.7).
  • Pop up download (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fruey (563914) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:35AM (#3302860) Homepage Journal
    Scares the hell out of me. Whoever does this should get their sites DoSsed immediately.

    This is a major security issue, and clearly by default the only warning in MSIE is a dialog box, which you may already have set to just accept downloads automatically.

    Yet another reason to use non-standard browsers and non Windows OS, so that you even if you end up with an executable it won't execute.
    • Re:Pop up download (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Corby911 (250281)
      It's also a convincing argument for turning off all forms of client-side scripting except for when they are needed.
      • Re:Pop up download (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sketerpot (454020)
        Hear, hear! In almost all cases that I have seen, JavaScript stuff could have been replaced with ordinary HTML and been made cleaner and easier to use. There are a few cases where client side scripting is useful, but most are just stupid abuses, like the one on this high school [cchsigs.org] page that makes an annoying message appear in the bar where link destinations are normally shown.
    • Re:Pop up download (Score:2, Informative)

      by ShadeEagle (153172)
      It shows up as an ActiveX Control. A site I use frequently, EZBoard, has this form of advertisement.

      And yes, people CAN set up their computers to automatically accept these. The newer IEs always ask 'do you want to download or save this' to everything, even though no matter what kind of file it is - zip, rar, exe - I wanna save it, not run it.

      It's very annoying, it SHOULD be illegal if it isn't, and it slows some browser/os/pc combinations to a crawl... I'm currently on my work's PC which is a decent system, running NT and IE5, and it is friggin slow.
  • Gator managed to sneak it's way onto my PC with the latest DivX. Can't uninstall Gator without losing DivX. I found an easy workaround...find the gator.exe file (unsure of EXACT name of file), rename it to gator.old. No more Gator starting up with Windows. Bye bye spy. :)
    • Re:Gator info (Score:3, Informative)

      by ShadeEagle (153172)
      Ah, DivX 5 Pro. Comes with "GAIN".

      Keep in mind, it didn't exactly sneak on, they're quite open that it will install - unless you grab the normal version.

      The Pro version has encoding-only advantages, which most end-users won't use. You either pay $30 or agree to install the adware.

      Oh, and renaming the file won't work. If GAIN isn't running, you won't be able to encode with the Pro encoder.
      • Re:Gator info (Score:2, Informative)

        by fwankypoo (58987)
        Ahh, but if I use my handy Tiny Personal Firewall to block that silly GAIN program, it can't talk to its server, so it can't do anything to me... Muahahaha!
    • Re:Gator info (Score:2, Informative)

      by xjimhb (234034)
      Some of the spyware manages to sneak in hooks in places neither Ad-aware (highly recommended) nor I have been able to find (you can find and remove the program, but not the hooks). The result is that when you boot up, it hangs temporarily with a window asking for a path to, for example, "ezulaMain.exe" (that is one of the more obnoxious ones).

      My solution has been to compile a small Hello-World type program to an exe file. Then when I run into one of these, I make a copy of the exe file and rename it to whatever seems to be needed - if it gets called, a window pops up on the screen, then vanishes almost instantly, much less hassle.

      I also have a copy of this called "iexplore.exe" to take care of any programs that try to invoke Internut Exploder ... what was that about you couldn't remove IE from Windoze ???

  • Wow, this is lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sc00ter (99550) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:37AM (#3302870) Homepage
    "In some cases, people are not even asked whether they want the software. It just installs on the hard drive--a particularly troublesome tactic that some have dubbed "drive-by download."

    What programs do this? I've never, ever seen a webbrowser that automatically installs stuff. At least not until you specifically specify for that site only (like MS Updates, or Station.Sony.com)

    "But those horror stories are the exception. More typically, software makers are simply using the downloads to distribute legitimate products."

    Legitimate products don't automatically download onto my computer without my concent.

    • Re:Wow, this is lame (Score:5, Informative)

      by Violet Null (452694) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:54AM (#3302982)
      I've never, ever seen a webbrowser that automatically installs stuff.

      IE will happily install stuff without prompting if that's the way the security is set up; eg, if you set the "Internet Zone" (or whatever) to "Low" security, it will automatically download any signed ActiveX control.
    • What programs do this? I've never, ever seen a webbrowser that automatically installs stuff. At least not until you specifically specify for that site only (like MS Updates, or Station.Sony.com)

      They didn't say it automatically INSTALLS the software. Just that the download is automatically started. A site could do this with a popup to a URL pointing directly at an .exe or .zip file. Most browsers will recognize this as something to be downloaded, not viewed in the browser, and you'll get a file Save As... prompt.
    • That f#$#cking pesky program Comet Cursor can install itself, depending what your IE securtiy level is at.

  • by cetan (61150) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:37AM (#3302875) Journal
    Since 0.9.4, mozilla users have had the ability to block onload and unload pop-ups/unders. I've had zero problems with this. It doesn't block pop-ups you request, just the ones you don't.

    I've not seen a popup in months and months. It's fantastic.
    • How? Please elaborate. Is there a function or is this done with scripting? Could you post the scripting?
      • by bconway (63464) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:02AM (#3303041) Homepage
        Preferences -> Advanced -> Scripts and Windows. I uncheck all except the last 3.
      • Since 0.9.4, mozilla users have had the ability to block onload and unload pop-ups/unders. I've had zero problems with this. It doesn't block pop-ups you request, just the ones you don't. I've not seen a popup in months and months. It's fantastic.

        How? Please elaborate. Is there a function or is this done with scripting? Could you post the scripting?

        it is in the preferences area.

        Edit -> Preferences-> Advanced-> Scripts and Windows

    • More Mozilla tips (Score:3, Informative)

      by bertilow (218923)

      Mozilla can get even more ad-free.

      I've added this to my personal style sheet (automatically applied to every page):

      object, embed {
      display: none;
      }

      This keeps all Flash etc. invisible. On some platforms you can just uninstall the Flash plugin, but that doesn't work in the Linux Mozilla. (The ", embed" part is probably not necessary.)

      The file to change is "userChrome.css", and can be found in the "chrome" directory wherever Mozilla keeps your personal settings, mail, etc.

      And then, whenever you see an ad that is an ordinary image, you can right click on it, and check if it comes from some server that probably only serves ads. If so, right click again, and choose "Block images from this server".

      Using all these tricks, you can get rid of a lot of ads and other annoying material.

      Most of this should work in Netscape 6 as well.

  • PR0N (Score:5, Funny)

    by rbeattie (43187) <russ@russellbeattie.com> on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:38AM (#3302886) Homepage
    I've seen this thing before on pr0n sites... once again they're leading the way on the web. I never thought that traditional advertisers would stoop this low, though. I wonder what's next?

    -Russ

    Ooh, wait. What I meant was my FRIENDS have seen stuff like this and told me about it. Wait, I don't have friends that look at pr0n either... umm. I read about this sort of thing, yeah. That's it...
  • Yet another (Score:5, Insightful)

    by llamalicious (448215) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:40AM (#3302892) Journal
    Yet another reason to browse with Mozilla or Opera with onLoad (or all) popups disabled.

    Most of these advertising techniques either rely on browsers (or users) who don't or can't disable popups easily. (read: 90% of the internet explorer population.) Or they rely on Internet Explorer specific techniques, e.g. windowless flash animations (transparent backgrounds) for shoshkeles, etc.

    I think it's time the antivirus companies step up to the plate for the average consumer, and add blocking/filtering to the AV clients. Maybe it's overkill, but if you could tag these popup downloads as a potential virus (or at least unauthorized use of your computer) the world would be a better place. Or, create some add-ons to mozilla which filter popups against a database (ala the defunct spamcop) popupcop?

    When something is sold as "advertising" but is nothing less than an attempt to trick or confuse a person into purchasing, downloading or installing your software, that's misrepresentation and/or fraud. Regardless of any 2pt fine-print at the bottom, or "user agreement" on the page. Hard to stop them, though.
    • Re:Yet another (Score:3, Insightful)

      by larien (5608)
      Some popups are actually quite good, mainly the ones on e-commerce sites where you click on a link to view an item description. Mozilla does this well by blocking "unrequested" (I think that's the word it uses) popups.

      onLoad isn't the most evil popup rule; onExit or onLeave (or whatever they're called) are worse as you can end up with something you can't leave without some fast clicking or disabling Javascript.

    • Yes, it's amazing that the article doesn't have any mention of whether the browser makers might have some responsibility. From reading articles like this you would get the impression that spyware, viruses, intrusive ads and so on are unavoidable whenever computers are used, and the only answer is some kind of regulation to make websites act 'responsibly'.
      • From reading articles like this you would get the impression that spyware, viruses, intrusive ads and so on are unavoidable whenever computers are used, and the only answer is some kind of regulation to make websites act 'responsibly'.

        Or that existing regulation can't be applied. I expect anything that downloads and installs without permission could fall legally under the existing computer trespass laws. Sneaking spyware might be trespass, but is almost definitely fraud.

        We have more then enough laws, don't make new ones, use the existing ones.

    • I think it's time the antivirus companies step up to the plate for the average consumer, and add blocking/filtering to the AV clients.
      They've already done it, it's just not in the AV clients. Norton Internet Security has the ability to block pop-up's/ActiveX/Java. Also I know McAfee firewall has some built in blocking (not that familiar iwth it though) that you can use to block pop-up's/pop-under's.
    • Unfortunately, I've discovered some web sites have legitimate windows which won't open if "popups" are disabled.

      Microsoft's (are you surprised?) Outlook Web Access, the web application for accessing an Exchange Server, opens messages in their own window when you click on them in the index. Fine and dandy. The problem comes when you try to Reply or Forward the message. Whatever method they use to display that window involves onLoad or some related technique because clicking Reply or Forward makes the message window close and no replacement window appear. Incredibly lame web coding on their part.
      • I use Opera for 99% of my browsing primarily for its annoyance-abatement features, but for some things -- like OWA -- there is no substitute for a plain, dumb browser. Unless pop-ups in email are a big problem for you, it seems to work.
  • Before we all go into full outrage mode, remember that the software can't install unless you click Yes. I'm sure if they could install without confirmation, they would, but they can't, so let's not have a fit about it. It's obnoxious, but not sleazy. Sleazy would be deceptive (kazaa-brilliant is sleazy). Obnoxious is just something that slows you down.
    • The article states otherwise. The mechanism, however, is not specified...

      One approach that might be possible is two-stage -- a voluntarily downloaded plug-in, that "opens the door" by automatically downloads without requiring additional user consent.

      And, of course, this lil' feature might not be mentioned in the initial yes/golly,sure/damn yes/whatever you say/no dialogue box. So "consent" it may be, but that doesn't guarantee informed consent -- and unless you have one heck of a sandbox, you have little ability to verify that what you downloaded is exactly what you thought you were downloading.
  • Sounds like Nimda :) (Score:4, Interesting)

    by possible (123857) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:41AM (#3302904)
    What's interesting and revealing about Gator's approach is that the well-known Nimda [cert.org] worm spread by injecting popup download code into IIS-served web pages, exploiting a vulnerability in Internet Explorer that caused the user NOT to be prompted before the dowloaded program executed.
  • by Cylix (55374) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:41AM (#3302905) Homepage Journal
    This happened last night I'm afraid...

    I was completely shocked when the gator icon mysteriously appeared and greeted me. I removed the little bastard immediately. However, I let a long sigh as I realized it would come back shortly.

    So last night I decided to go with mozilla and live with whatever problems it may bring.

    The mozilla team should thank the gator software company and evil commie bastard marketing reps around the world.
  • Really nasty variety (Score:3, Interesting)

    by -brazil- (111867) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:42AM (#3302907) Homepage
    This kind of thing has been making headlines in Germany recently.
    Many sites try to coerce users (especially kids) into installing
    "high-speed" or "priority" internet dialers that in reality just change the default internet
    connection to an extremely expensive number. By the time you
    get the phone bill, it's often in the four-figures. The telco
    doesn't want to be responsible since they just rent out the
    numbers, and the companies that rent them are also mostly resellers with
    with the final "customers" mostly being based outside Germany.
    • I was getting a horror story from some folks in the West Palm Beach area. Apparently they'd set their kid up with a phone with no long distance service. At some point the number got slammed into long distance service and they never noticed on the bill. Then one day their kid installs software for a "free" internet provider. That happened to be located in Belgium (This was not immediately apparent from their home page. I checked.) Kid leaves the computer up 24x7, they get a $10,000 phone bill. Ouch.
    • The telco
      doesn't want to be responsible since they just rent out the
      numbers


      Well, the telco IS responsible, and if something like that were to happen to me it'd be "Sorry, I'm not going to pay this." The telco didn't rack up those charges, they're simply passing along the third party bill to you. Since said bill was generated through deception and fraud, there is no way in hell anyone could force me to pay it.

      In the USA, at least, the telco legally can NOT disconnect your service for refusing to pay third party bills like this. You just tell them to fuck off and if they give you any hell, threaten a lawsuit, and/or call your state's consumer protection agency. People who sit there and pay that crap are insane. They need to realize that just because someone bills you for something doesn't mean you're obligated to pay for it, and there's not shit anyone can do to force you to pay it. Their only option is to convince a judge that you really owe them the money.

      I've invoked the "ain't gonna pay that" attitude many times, especially when it comes to BS medical bills. I've never had a problem: Either they justified their bill to me and I paid it, or they left me alone. None have dared to send one to collections or put it on my credit report yet.
  • by Carmody (128723) <slashdotNO@SPAMdougshaw.com> on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:42AM (#3302909) Homepage Journal
    Does anybody actually like the software? I accidentally installed it once, before I had heard about "spyware" and "scumware" and I just found it completely annoying. Now that I think about it - I had to do a google search to find out how to remove it, and that's when I first learned about that sort of thing.

    So my question is: Is there anyone who actually WANTS the software? Or are ALL copies there because someone accidentally downloaded it and doesn't know how to remove it.
    • by romkey (145460) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:58AM (#3303014) Homepage
      I started using Gator because Ebates [ebates.com] suggested it... I like Ebates a lot and they were suggesting (not even pushing) Gator because of its form-management and password remembering functions, which weren't commonly available in browsers at that point. At that time, Gator was more of a helpful tool than a malignant advertising injector.

      As Gator has evolved it's become more and more malicious; popping up ads when I'm browsing is the most annoying, but also it's started placing its own ads over banner ads on web pages - that doesn't annoy me any more than the banner ads would but I think it's a pretty evil practice and I don't want to support it.

      The only reason I've kept using Gator is that I have a large investment in terms of the passwords I have stored in it, but there are other, better ways to take care of that problem. At this point I run Gator with it completely blocked by firewall software, so it can't update itself and it can't download ads or offers. If you delete everything in C:\PROGRAM FILES\COMMON FILES\GMT\BANNERS you'll get rid of the ads it's already downloaded.
  • "There's no question that there (are) programs that are more aggressive. With this, there's some measure of permission," said [Gator's] Eagle."

    Wow...he's actually doing people the favor of allowing them to decide whether they want the software or not, sorta...quick, someone give him the Nobel Peace Prize! "Some measure of permission"...sign me up for THAT!
  • by Vic (6867) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:45AM (#3302920) Homepage
    Pretty soon we'll see pop-ups that say:

    Do you wish to install this file? YES / NO

    If yes, please do the following:
    - Download file and save to /tmp
    - cd /tmp
    - tar xvzf slashpopup.tar.gz
    - cd slashpopup
    - ./configure (For help with options, do ./configure --help)
    - make
    - su
    - make install
    ....Finished!
  • The problem is the advertisers are shooting themselves in the foot. The more irritating their advertisements, the more numb the readers become. If they shout all the time, people will learn to ignore shouting. I already am so used to killing the popups on weather.com that i know when they pop up and kill the windows with a swift keystroke before the ad image even loads.
  • But those horror stories are the exception. More typically, software makers are simply using the downloads to distribute legitimate products.

    Any company or software that uses this method is not selling a legitimate product IMO - which come to think of it, does Gator actually have ANY use to it whatsoever? Mozilla/IE remember passwords already, what kind of "product" is this?

    Crap like this will get worse until we start to classify scumware as Trojans, and take appropriate steps to secure our networks. Fuck these guys.
  • Consumers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stiletto (12066) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:47AM (#3302943)
    "Do you accept this download?" If the consumer clicks "Yes," an application is automatically installed.

    This clutter has created a haven for pop-up downloads because consumers find it hard to determine the ad's origin.

    Gator isn't the only software maker using this tactic to add consumers.

    "Consumers want control of their PCs," Gator President Jeff McFadden said in a statement.

    Why am I a consumer just because I am accessing the Internet? The problem here is not the pop-up technology, but the unwritten assumption (perpetuated by the author of the report) that we are all just mindless "consumers of product" that need to be targeted by ads.

    Only when this mindset is abandoned will we see an end to attention grabbing and demographic gathering.
    • You Are a Minority (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Greyfox (87712) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:12AM (#3303087) Homepage Journal
      Most of the people on the internet are in fact consumers. The mindset will not be abandoned because more and more consumers are getting on the net every day, which means us techies are becoming an increasing minority.

      I think we'll only be able to escape the constant bombardment of advertisments (And skript kiddie attacks and all the other comparatively recent crap) by establishing our own network on top of the internet. It's easy to do and we're technically capable of doing it.

    • He only uses the word consumer for the interview.
      I'm sure internally you are simply referred to as "the target"
      :)
  • by trb (8509)
    One of my friends is fond of the game Snood [snood.com] for Windows, and encouraged me to check it out. When I did, I found that it came with two annoying bits of software, both a copy of Gator, and links to Bonzai Buddy, that stick themselves in your Start menu and various other places. Yick! (And goodbye Gator, banzai Banzai, and so long Snood.)
    • Then try downloading here [snood.org]:
      Pick the one that says: "Download Snood 2.4.5 without Gator & Offer Companion"

      Granted, it is buried in a sub page and all... but, thems the breaks.
  • by Seth Finkelstein (90154) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:49AM (#3302954) Homepage Journal
    Take a look at this report about Gator [gator.com] at http://www.thiefware.com/info/data.gator.shtml [thiefware.com]
    People are still complaining that Gator is getting installed on their computers with little advanced warning and in many instances, people do not know that Gator is being installed until the next time they turn on their computer. The user should always have the option to click on a download link but instead Gator partner sites use the automatic ActiveX download/installation program.

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

  • Mozilla (Score:4, Informative)

    by macdaddy (38372) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:50AM (#3302962) Homepage Journal
    To go along with the Opera folks out there, I've got to chime in and say I absolutely love being able to filter unsolicited popups. God I love that feature. It makes browsing pron sites soo much better. Also disable the window resizing shit. No longer will popup bastards resize a window beyond your screensize!
  • Popup warning dialog (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZaneMcAuley (266747)
    Why can I ONLY see a checkbox for "Always trust downloads from this company"
    and NOT "Always MISTRUST downloads from this company" on the install dialog on IE?
    • by shyster (245228) <brackett AT ufl DOT edu> on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:12AM (#3303090) Homepage
      Why can I ONLY see a checkbox for "Always trust downloads from this company" and NOT "Always MISTRUST downloads from this company" on the install dialog on IE?

      Add them to the Restricted Sites zone. That will (by default) keep them from running any code, including signed and unsigned ActiveX, and even cookies.

      • I already control my cookies via the privacy settings. But i dont want to have a huge list of DO NOT URLS. I want something that i can say "YES I WANT THIS AND ONLY THIS" otherwise im adding and growing this list continuesly.

        I always could add to the etc/hosts file with an IP of 0.0.0.0 or 127.0.0.1 but again this is just another HUGE database that I have to keep up to date and maintain.

        I want SMART tools, not a database.
  • by Otter (3800) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:52AM (#3302968) Journal
    Yeah, this where the "limited number of applications" available for MacOS pays off. We have Excel and Quicken and IE and Quake, but they never seem to port any of the parasite-ware that comes with your video card drivers. And I'm guessing we won't be getting this stuff, either.

    And PPC Linux binaries are probably out of the question...

  • Combine the paint-image-on-your-retina laser systems and pop-up firmware downloads...

    Access retinal laser subsystem set laser_power==(laserpower*100); set boot_dialogue=="www.bigpenis.com - The natural way to male enhancement"; end

  • by TheLibra (569361) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:57AM (#3303004)
    Well, for those of us who are forced to deal with an Micro$oft environment, there is some good news. Remember Nimda? It operated in a similar way when it was spread through web-pages, by forcing a download. Internet Explorer had a weakness that allowed this to happen. Now, however, they have the fix in IE 5.5 SP2... might also want to get whatever critical updates there are from the Window$ update site. So if you have that, and the patch for Nimda you shouldn't be forced to do anything. Cancel should always be allowed.

    And honestly, people, if you set yourself to automatically accept downloads, you're just asking for a trojan.

    Now that you know the defense, let's talk about the offense. Some very respectable Hackers have already created programs designed to kill browser popups. Might I suggest as a new challenge for these ingenius few that a program be created that you can simply set an auto-cancel after a program asks you once to download it (like Gator)?

    For those of us without that level of programming ability, I recommend giving these companies that do this a flood of email complaints, expressing just how much we detest the all-time low they have reached. Since so many of us are in the IT or helpdesk field, we're in a unique position in that people believe what we say. If Gator persists in these forced-downloads, then start letting every single one of your customers know that Gator stands a chance of royally screwing up their operating system and compromising their security. If they ask for specifics, look for any bug whatsoever that has been reported, or that you can find in the program, and exploit it like a cheap tabloid. If it crashed one persons system and made them reboot, then it -always- crashes systems... etc.

    Of course, I myself would never result to any illegal means, but legal strongarm tactics are very effective when done in mass-quantity. If enough of us get together on this, and enough sand is thrown by enough people, advertisers will eventually get the hint.

    Now who's with me?

    -The Libra
    "Maybe Lisa's right about America being the land of opportunity, and maybe Adil's got a point about the machinery of capitalism being oiled with the blood of the workers." - Homer Simpson
  • Divx 5 Maybe??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Apreche (239272) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:02AM (#3303038) Homepage Journal
    This Gator software you speak of is probably related to the new Divx ;-) 5. If you download the standard version, there are no ads, no nothing. The pro version however, is either A) pay for it or B) gain_trickler. If Divx pro can't find the gain trickler it wont run. The trickler sits as an idle process, but when you browse the web it watches you and throws targeted advertising at you. My solution was to use ZoneAlarm to block the gain trickler from accessing the internet, this way I get divx 5 pro for free, and no ads. adaware is also quite helpful.
  • Can somebody recommend good tools for IE 6.x that integrate well on the toolbar, sideband to prevent popUPs popUNDERS, spyware installers etc?

    Not database based ones, ones that are intelligent enough to know that I DID NOT CLICK THIS LINK and then blocks it etc etc.

    Thanks.

    • Re:IE tools (Score:3, Informative)

      by poulbailey (231304)
      Can somebody recommend good tools for IE 6.x that integrate well on the toolbar, sideband to prevent popUPs popUNDERS, spyware installers etc?

      I can only strongly recommend The Proxomitron [proxomitron.org]. It's freeware and it allows you to block all sorts of nasties - popups included. Besides popups, it will also filter javascript, cookies and ads. If that isn't enough for you it allows you to create your own filters using regexps. The Proxomitron is very powerful.

      It's actually better than what you are looking for, because it isn't one of those stupid Browser Helper Objects. It acts as a local proxy and filters the HTML before it hits your browser. This program is a godsend to anyone who wants to browse in peace. The default look of the program is a little zany, but don't let that scare you since it can be easily turned off (Config | Visuals | Don't use textures).

      You should also look at the IE security settings. Basically you need to turn everything off in the default Internet zone.

  • Pay Per Download (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DanMcS (68838) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:04AM (#3303053)

    Hey, that's an interesting idea- use their own evil tactics against them. According to the article, Gator also has affiliate relationships with many sites, which it pays $1 every time a visitor downloads its software. There's no way they're making a dollar off of each user any time soon. So we automate the process, giving them a hundred thousand affiliate downloads a day, increase their burn rate, and poof, they go out of business. Screw you, gator.

  • by Jburkholder (28127) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:18AM (#3303119)
    My dad called to ask if I could come over and 'fix' his computer. I'm always willing to come down and see dad and untangle whatever mess exists on his PC.

    His dial-up connection was slow, he said. Indeed, every site I visited in his favorites was really slow and now wonder... everysite seemed to launch a couple of pop-unders that were consuming bandwidth downloading ads.

    "Yeah, I've been getting that ever since I installed 'gator'"

    "gator is something I got from yahoo that helps me fill in forms or something"

    That rat-bastard gator had put hooks everywere, was a real pain to uninstall ("please stop the gator program before proceeding" - except to the ordinary user the concept of stopping a taskbar icon isn't very obvious).

    The uninstaller launched a browser and loaded a page telling you why you shouldn't uninstall. Geez, go away already!

    Yeah, my dad is pretty clueless - I reminded him not to download and install stuff unless he is pretty clear on what he is getting.

    This software seems to exploit that cluelessness, posing as some innocuous, helpful utility when it's real purpose is far more invasive and it is relatively complicated to get rid of.
  • I have a standard policy for companies using these tactics: I don't do business with them. As a rule of thumb, if they spam me with spam I didn't ask for or they feel they have to fuck with my web browser in order to sell me their shit, I won't do business with them. If I feel they're a legitamate company, I'll even take the time to write them and explain my position to them (Hasn't happened yet heh.)

    If you want this sort of thing to stop, make it unprofitable. And make sure your less technically literate friends know that the general rule of thumb is if the computer asks them something, they should always answer "No."

  • by Com2Kid (142006) <com2kidSPAMLESS@gmail.com> on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:21AM (#3303137) Homepage Journal
    On the seedier side of the web, nothing new folks. Just now its spyware instead of trojans, thats all. (oh wait there is a difference. . . .)

    A lot of japanese h-anime sites (the less artistic ones, yes there is artistic hentai, get over it and deal.) use a dial up program of some sorts that I am (assuming) dials some sort of toll number, but it only works if you have a dial up modem, negates the need for a credit card though.

    Some of the seedier US web sites I have seen actualy attempt to automaticaly do this to you (ouch) luckily enough I have a cable modem and I uninstalled my regular ol' modem quite a while ago. ^_^

    My Japanese Tutor actualy had a related problem, (didn't look at porn, damn thing managed to spread anyways, VERY annoying). One of these toll programs (one of the less respectable variety) got on the computer and refused to go away, hooked on to everything.

    Nasty stuff.
  • Much of the crap such as noted on this topic is based on Microsoft technology, which, as we all know, is quite invasive and unsecure.

    With WINE, perhaps, something like this might work on a x86 box with Linux, but all that pop-up ads may do on a Mac OS system, perhaps, is ask if the item could be downloaded, and, once downloaded, sit unused, unrecognized--the Mac OS doesn't do ActiveX per se.

    Of course, using a PC emulator such as Virtual PC removes such insulation.
  • In three easy steps:

    1) Goto mozilla.org and download latest release installer here [mozilla.org].
    2) Start up mozilla after installer completes
    3) Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Scripts & Windows and uncheck "Open unrequested windows"

    Couldn't be easier.

  • The sickest part of the whole ball of wax is that in the story Gator claims to have 13 million users. So much the same as a spammer can be successful by blasting 1 million emails and have 1000 "suckers" reply with interest....So can gator be succesful when only a small percentage of people are savvy enough to click on "NO".

    Thus to the scumbags that look on -- this is a very fruitful way of doing business. Hence, the internet has turned into a big pile of rubbish way beyond the traditional (high cost) damage of telemarketers and junk (snail)mailers. A low cost way to reach the vulnurable. At some point those with the intelect must stand tall and say "NO MORE". Those developers that work at companies that do business this way should find employment elseware or forever bear the burden that will smitten them to geek hell (an afterlife of no mountain dew and no simpsons reruns).

    I only need to look up at the big flasy blue and white banner ad contrasting on the green and white /. layout to see that this is a frontier where the ad-mongers and marketing sect have thrown not only ethics to the wind but also taste.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 08, 2002 @12:31PM (#3303566) Homepage
    With all this hostile code running around, legitimate site designers have to assume that many web features will be firewalled or disabled. So, if you're responsible for any web sites:
    • It has to work with JavaScript turned off.
    • You have to test with a filtering proxy, like WebWasher. Your site has to work behind such a proxy. We'll probably see more proxies and firewalls in corporate environments.
    • It has to work with cookies turned off, or at least produce useful error messages. Endlessly recycling the user to the wrong page because a cookie wasn't found is out.
    • It has to work with IE in its most restrictive security mode. Among other things, this means don't use Active-X controls. You can't even assume the user runs Flash.

    This isn't too restrictive. Big players, like Amazon, Yahoo Store, and the major search sites, all work under these restrictions. If your site doesn't, your site is broken.

    • by ShavenYak (252902) <bsmith3@@@charter...net> on Monday April 08, 2002 @02:09PM (#3304168) Homepage
      Can I have an Amen, brothers and sisters?

      There's no need for a bank's web site to require Javascript, pop-up windows, and ActiveX just so I can view my account balance. And I sure don't need all that crap to buy a CD. Tie your site to your ordering system on the server side, and send my browser plain, standard-compliant HTML. If you want to use javascript for form validation, fine, but make sure your site still works if I have it turned off (ie, validate again on the server). If you really want to display something in a pop-up, use <a href="whatever.html" target="_new">.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 08, 2002 @12:36PM (#3303604)
    Not too sure if this has been said yet, but this is an amazing tool that will clean all the spyware from your system. You will be amazed at how much you have on there. It is called AdAware and can be downloaded free from the link below.

    http://www.lavasoftusa.com
  • by Galvatron (115029) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:08PM (#3303785)
    Comet Cursor was a popup download on many sites, most annoyingly doonesbury.com. I'm sorry to see that they didn't learn their lesson back then...

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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