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Browser Tools Aim to Warn Surfers of Spyware, Spam 95

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "New Web tools aim to protect surfers by flagging sites that are associated with viruses, spam or other scourges, but they sometimes disagree over whether a site is safe. From the article: 'Scandoo's service sometimes misses the mark in its efforts to flag adult content. On a recent day, it gave a green rating to the web site for Maxim Magazine's U.K. division, even though it contains nudity. It gave a red rating to the magazine's U.S. site, which contains no nudity. After an inquiry from the Online Journal, [executive Dan] Nadir said Scandoo decided to change the rating, reclassifying the U.K. site as red by default. "It was clear that it was misclassified, so we classified it correctly," Mr. Nadir said. A spokesman for Maxim Online said the discrepancy showed Scandoo's technology is "clearly broken."'"
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Browser Tools Aim to Warn Surfers of Spyware, Spam

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's called my brain.
    • works for plain old domain names that only use characters you can find on a US keyboard, but with support for internationalized domain names with unicode that isn't going to work for much longer. A spoofer could substitute a non-ASCII character in place of an ascii one since some foreign alphabets have characters that look similar to ones in the plain old Roman alphabet. Though I guess the font used by your browser would be partially to blame. Still, don't think you're safe just because you can recognize th
  • Broken? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rworne ( 538610 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @06:26PM (#15535785) Homepage
    Mr. Nadir said. A spokesman for Maxim Online said the discrepancy showed Scandoo's technology is "clearly broken."'"

    No, it may have something to do with what is acceptable regarding nudity in Europe vs the US. Bare breasts is not apparently a big deal with our friends across the pond, but over here, it's cause to bring out the torches and pitchforks. Besides, last I saw Maxim (the US version) it contained no real nudity at all.

    • maxim isn't pr0n anyway, its just a "lads mag"... that means that there is a little nudity (about the same that you get on page 3) and some crazy stories about dogs that ate people or aliens who stole lawn furniture... from the sublime to the insane, right?
      • Re:Broken? (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Regrettably there is no page three in the US, at least not the kind of page three your used to. You might see something about Bush but not a twat, well let me rephrase that your won't see any nudity. Like he said, Nudity = Fire and Brimstone in the US, unless its covered in a non-transparent black plasic bag and put in a section reserved for "Adults" then you don't see it or have public access to it.
    • Right, standards are different in different locales. Clearly, then, the tool should flag depending on what country you're surfing from.
    • Re:Broken? (Score:2, Insightful)

      You're definitely right. The scene in Eurotrip that depicts nudity in european advertising is not completely made up. Europeans are much more accustomed to nudity, and I imagine that a US version of Maxim would not sell as well in the UK because of this. For goodness sakes people, just because there's boobies doesn't mean there's spyware. There's a big difference, and if these people are redflagging Maxim, they're obviously just another NetNanny. Move along, nothing to see here.
      • This morning while on the way to work I noticed an ad for underwear. It involved 3 ladies, 1 wearing regular undies, 2 of them wearing a string, all 3 seen from the back jumping for a volleyball. Best part was that this ad was located on the back of a bus filled with schoolchildren.
    • Boobies ? BOOBIES ?

      Run for you life !!!!

      (the only thing that change is the direction in which the people are running).
  • Google Safe Browsing (Score:5, Informative)

    by mishmash ( 585101 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @06:28PM (#15535792) Homepage
    Google Safe Browsing [] is a Firefox extension freely provided by google which warns of some dodgy sites.
    • Now rolled into Google Toolbar [] for Firefox.
      • Yea, great.

        Trouble is, I DON'T WANT ANY MORE TOOLBARS! Ahem. More is NOT better in this case.

        Perhaps that is the reason why I rarely got hit by adware/spyware, even before Firefox. I just have never seen a real reason for all these toolbars. *shrug*

        • Hear hear. What I'd like is an extension that keeps extremely low profile. Until it sees a threat that is. When this happens, it display an appropriate warning that fills the screen. Something like "WARNING, YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE SCAMMED!". I would install it on my relatives PCs, it would give them a fighting chance.
          • The tool should be called scamdoo.
          • Firefox users can get SiteAdvisor, which has chronicled most of the signups and some of the downloads on the web (Lots of signups!) and tells you if you get spam emails from signing up for this, or if that download will screw up your computer.
    • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) * on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @06:51PM (#15535966)
      The problem with programs like this is that they simply can't catch everything. This in itself isn't bad until you have users which rely on them. Once users rely on these tools, they let their guard down, and they immediately trust anything that the tool says is okay instead of remaining suspicious.

      These are great tools, but they should add to personal judgement rather than replace it.

      • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @06:58PM (#15536007) Journal
        These are great tools, but they should add to personal judgement rather than replace it.
        People seem to have left their personal judgement wherever they left their personal responsibility.
      • In the case of young children, I believe the intent here is to prevent the need for the child to make a moral judgement before he's staring at possibly objectionable sites.

        The wonderful thing about the Internet is you instantaneously arrive wherever you want to go. At which point is the user supposed to make a personal judgement about a site? While the request packet arrives at the server but before the data is returned?

        I'm not saying I want my internet filtered, but if I did, I think the point of t
      • Sounds like a spell-checker/grammar-checker problem.
    • Maybe we could reverse-engineer it, and use it as a plugin to take us to "red-flagged" sites!
    • Proof that there's no problem in life that can't be solved by writing a Firefox plugin!
  • McAffee Site Advisor (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dragoonmac ( 929292 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {camnoogarD}> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @06:34PM (#15535843) Journal
    Site Advisor [] is an awesome firefox plugin that not only displays whether the site you are at is currently "safe", it also puts a little green check, yello exclamation point, or red x next to popular search engine's results. If you want to see why a site got a certain rating, you can click the check/mark/x or if you're at the site, the colored bar in the bottom of your browser, to see what McAffee found out when they scanned and indexed the site.
    • is a completely visual Search Engine. So it scans content before it can damage your computer. Blocks and warns. Scott
      • Well, as far as I can tell, it actually loads your results in an iframe or something similar, since any aggressive web site will still do damage. Easy test - search for screensavers (a notably dangerous search) and see that it takes over your browser.

        Oops, not so safe after all!
        • The ViewSmart software which is now free stops everything(no spyware in it). And on top of the dangerous site it warns you and doesn't allow any intrusion. Unlike the others that keep a record, since this is a visual search engine it can be scanned live. Scott
  • How long before we see popups inviting you to download browser tools to combat spyware :-) ?
    • I have a hilarious screenshot of a "windows alert" telling me that it suspects my registry is damaged and it's recommended that I download their registry cleaner and clean my registry. (Click to DOWNLOAD and RUN free Registry Cleaner)

      It may have been less entertaining had I not been running Mac OS X.

    • Unless I'm misunderstanding you, we've had pop-ups masquerading as spyware removal tools (amongst other things) for years now. To the people who fall for such things, the categorization of being a browser tool would mean nothing.
  • Nudity is now in the same class as spam and trojans etc? What is it going to do, give my computer a hard drive ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @06:57PM (#15536002)
    In Communist China, all web sites have Red flags...of one kind or another...
  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @07:07PM (#15536088)
    Yeah, that'll keep me off it.
  • In Soviet Russia, websites flag you!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @07:12PM (#15536123)
    Creating safety on the Internet is not reached through the means of blacklists, spamlists and all that, this only reduces the problem to a minor degree thus allowing people to stick their head in the sand, sometimes totally unaware of whats really going on. If you really want to start making progress you'll be trying to make the people aware of the problem and point them to their responsibility when they logon to the Net.

    Not that it makes a big difference but the moment some people finally realize that when they're being sloppy with their computer it allows 3rd parties to compromise it resulting in abuse towards others. Even this isn't always enough ("so? as long as nothing happens to me, I got nothing to hide") so /also/ make them realize that their precious connection as well as their PC can also come to a grinding halt.

    Only after you've realized this will you have a good basis to take it to the next step, which is IMO actually setting up legal grounds for retaliation. But quite frankly I don't see this happening sometime soon. First due to the overhead, second the amount of money which is being made here on all levels (even the "good guys" trying to protect us really aren't moral knights or something) and finally.. Most people will remain stupid.
  • by BkBen7 ( 926853 ) <> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @07:13PM (#15536126) Homepage
    The first time I read the title I read it as

    Bowser Aims to Warn Surfers of Spyware, Spam

    sinse when does the king koopa care about me?
  • by npsimons ( 32752 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @07:26PM (#15536207) Homepage Journal
    But what the fuck does nudity have to do with spam and viruses? Can we cut the bullshit, and keep the anti-virus, anti-spam and I'm-a-prude-please-don't-expose-me-to-the-natural- world software separate? Some of us are grownups and just because we don't like spam or viruses doesn't me we disapprove of nudity.
    • "Some of us are grownups and just because we don't like spam or viruses doesn't me we disapprove of nudity"

      Some of us actively look for it... ; )
    • For folks who run a corporate intranet or lab at a school nudity, spam, and viruses are all "three things which we absolutely can't afford to have popping up on our PCs". They're the ones this product is aimed at, not technologically adept home users with no minors at the keyboard and no moral objections to pornography.
      • Nudity != pornography. Case in point, you mention schools. Art departments have more nudity than your average issue of Hustler, and rightly so.
        • Case in point, you mention schools. Art departments have more nudity than your average issue of Hustler, and rightly so.

          Hey, at my elementary school, there wasn't even an art department! There was just an art teacher who would come in once a week. She didn't bring any naked pictures, either. It was normally just paints and construction paper, and on occasion some popcorn seeds.

          I have trouble seeing nudity in an art department going over in any US elementary school after that incident with Janet Jackson a

    • No one's forcing you to use the service. Taking a less emotive example, some might not want to have directory advertising and mapping technology together - but that's no reason to condemn Google maps, just a reason to go somewhere else to get something more appropriate to your needs. This filtering service assists people who want to only see results that match a certain set of sensibilities - it would be ludicrous to expect people to have to use multiple filtering services and then correlate the results. Of
    • But what the fuck does nudity have to do with spam and viruses?

      I don't know about spam, but regarding viruses the keyword here is fuck. Some viruses are easier to contract after you two got naked.

    • Well said, I thought I was the only one confused about the link between bare breasts and malware.
  • Off-topic question, how do you configure firefox to not being downloading a file once you click a download link but rather only after you click "save". Firefox always starts downloading right away in order to make it seem like it is faster. This is dangerous as some sites that you visit have code which initiates a download right away and in the case of Firefox it will automatically start downloading. Eeek!
  • by klept ( 895849 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @07:42PM (#15536320)
    Dont know if similar post made- though I would think so - but I checked Scandoo out using some search words, one of which was the notorious screensaver word. I have a Firefox browser and was using a Google search. Funny thing on the results. There were no warning signs next to the paid advertisment placements of Google ads. I use a similar service called Siteadvisor on my FF browser. For the word Screensaver, there are some red warnings for the Google ads, and on Scandoo none. Though I havent read the comments to this post, nor the Scandoos info / help section, I think it is very misleading to have no warnings on the Google ads where there should be a warning. I think many might assume because they are Google ads, Google has checked out these ads. -Know I would- Wnen in fact, I dont think Google does any such thing. If I am misinformed, or there is something I dont realize, please let me know. But imho, I think Siteadvisor would be a much safer choice. Perhaps one could use both Scandoo and Siteadvisor to check out a site. Siteadvisor has an untested tag for a number of new sites. Maybe Scandoo has a rating. Otherwise I dont see the advantage in using this over Siteadvisor.
  • Wasn't there a giant conference between the big three recently to implement all this INTO the next generation of browser? I can see the arguments for the tool bar, but even the google toolbar gets to me when it clutters up my workspace (even a 24" screen can seem small when you have that much junk on it - should remove it...). Why bother with a toolbar??
  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <(skennedy) (at) (> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @07:59PM (#15536411) Homepage
    Scuttle just inadvertently slashdotted maxim UK.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Thats the sounds of the keyboards of thousands of U.S. Slashdotters hitting up Maxim UK. I KNOW you guys did it too....
    • Hint: if you type in you're going to be disappointed. As for the magazine site, I wouldn't even call it NSFW, unless maybe you work in a convent (or America).
  • by Joebert ( 946227 )
    It's just like hearing that girl you have your eye on has crabs, while you're spraying yourself with chemicals for no reason, the guy that told you that is bangin her.
  • "ALERT!!!! Your computer may be infected with spyware and viruses!!! Click here to fix this problem."
  • has something called ViewSmart that you download (no spyware). After the download you are protected from everything. No popups, no takeovers, no viruses - anything with an executable on the page actually gets a warning. By the way, it's a visual search engine. So you get to see all the results. Very cool. Scott
  • by Jesus IS the Devil ( 317662 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @08:57PM (#15536692)
    This kind of tool is cool and all, but it doesn't solve all problems. There are a bunch of users out there who surf the internet with the "I DON'T GIVE A SHIT" attitude, on purpose. These people download anything and everything with absolute disregard. Why do they do this? Here are some of the bigger reasons:

    1) It's not their computer (their employer's, internet cafe's, school's, library's, etc.) so they don't care.

    2) They go around with the thinking, "I'm nobody important, so why would they hack me? They only hack VIPs."

    These users are JUST AS BIG a problem as the hackers, phishers, and scammers, for they enable and encourage botnets, theft, etc. Too often these idiot end users and incompetent systems admins are left alone. I say we go for a "tough love" policy. F*ck around the net? Get your computer/network completely blocked. Want to get it unblocked? Read a long-ass pamphlet regarding the safeguarding of your computer/network, take a quiz, and sign a paper agreeing to follow stricter guidelines. If you get warned repeatedly, you're either fined or taken offline permanently.

    Now THAT, would get everyone's attention, and force morons off the net, where they don't belong.
  • Why the hell would the amount of nudity on a given site have anything at all to do with how many viruses and trojans the site tries to get you to download?

    Take for example, I highly doubt that there are any viruses or trojans on that site, yet there's a hell of a lot of nudity.

    Now, take other "OMFG FREE P0RNZ CLICKZ0RZ H3R3!!!ONE!" sites that display some random pornographic image while it tries to install no less than 3 trojans on your system. Less nudity, more scamming.
  • What slashdotter will use this on all the torrent/war3z/donkey_punch websites they go to?
  • Research shows that, just surfing around for an hour or maybe a little more will infect a normal windows PC with several spyware and virusses.

    I expect this "research" to more or less stay on the paved road. You start at CNN, slashdot and the microsoft home page click on the links, and avoid clicking the obviously pornographic adds.

    So, if you do that, obviously some "straight" sites somehow still infect those MS Windows machines.... Either they buy an add with a bigger add-distribution club, or they have a c
  • Since when is nudity considered spam or spyware?
  • I'm only reading foreign magazines from now on. (Except Hirsute Slut Revue, which has beautifully eloquent essays)

"Live or die, I'll make a million." -- Reebus Kneebus, before his jump to the center of the earth, Firesign Theater