Spyware Researcher Claims Zango Hasn't Mended Its Ways - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
News
News
11/6/2006
12:16 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%
RELATED EVENTS
[Cybersecurity] Costs vs. Benefits
Feb 28, 2017
This online event, hosted by the editors of Dark Reading, brings together IT security leaders, bus ...Read More>>

Spyware Researcher Claims Zango Hasn't Mended Its Ways

Critic questions whether the deal between the FTC and Zango, formerly known as 180solutions, will reduce adware.

On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission said Zango, a major adware distributor formerly known as 180solutions, and its two principals, Keith Smith and Daniel Toddhad of Bellevue, Wash., agreed to settle FTC charges that the company used unfair and deceptive methods to install and obstruct the removal of adware on consumers' computers in violation of federal law.

But spyware researcher Ben Edelman doubts that the company has reformed its ways. "I commend the FTC's efforts here, but serious diligence will be required to assure that [the company] actually complies with its many obligations under the settlement," Edelman said in an e-mail on Friday. "At this instant, I am confident that [the company] is not in compliance."

The $3 million settlement forbids Zango from downloading adware without consumers' consent. The agreement includes a prohibition on using security holes to install adware, a practice followed by some of the company's third-party affiliates. The deal won't make adware disappear, but the terms of the agreement require Zango to obtain the informed consent of users before installing any adware.

"Consumers' computers belong to them, and they shouldn't have to accept any content they don't want," said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection in a statement. "If consumers choose to receive pop-up ads, so be it. But it violates federal law to secretly install software that forces consumers to get pop-ups that disrupt their computer use."

Zango has a long history of controversial behavior. In 2004, Edelman published a report stating that 180solutions' software improperly manipulated online affiliate payment programs to collect referral commissions for itself and its partners that weren't due.

"[The company] continues plenty of bad practices, including some unlabeled ads and installation attempts predicated on security exploits," said Edelman. "I have the proof, and I expect to post this on my Web site in the coming weeks, subject only to my busy travel schedule." Zango's adware has been installed over 70 million times, according to the FTC. Its adware includes programs such as Zango Search Assistant, 180Search Assistant, Seekmo, and n-CASE. Often installed by third-party affiliates, the software monitors Internet use to display pop-up advertising. To date, the adware has displayed some 6.9 billion pop-up ads.

Efforts to mitigate spyware and adware appear to be having some effect. In 2005, the percentage of home PCs with spyware or adware programs declined from 80% to 61%, according to an AOL/National Cyber Security Alliance Online Safety Study released in December. But the study also found that 81% of home computers lack at least one of the three necessary protections: up-to-date computer virus software, spyware protection, and a secure firewall.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll