Spyware Researcher Claims Zango Hasn't Mended Its Ways - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
News
News
11/6/2006
12:16 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%
RELATED EVENTS
Ransomware: Latest Developments & How to Defend Against Them
Nov 01, 2017
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing types of malware, and new breeds that escalate quickly ar ...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 IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
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