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Windows AntiSpyware Downgrades Claria Detections 411

Posted by Zonk
from the convenient-timing dept.
accihap writes "A week after word leaked out that Microsoft was negotiating an acquisition deal with Claria (See recent /. coverage), spyware researchers have noticed that the Windows antispyware application has downgraded Claria's Gator detections and changed the recommended action from 'quarantine' to 'ignore.' Screenshots of the new default settings."
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Windows AntiSpyware Downgrades Claria Detections

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  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:25AM (#13002401)

    Honestly...is anyone surprised by this? We all saw this coming.
    Unfortunately, M$ can pull this sort of thing with near-impunity, as the only ones outraged by this are the ones who had issues with them in the first place (read: us).
    The vast majority of Windows users out there are just going to shrug and say, "Oh well...if Microsoft says they're not a threat, then they must not be a threat."
    • by digidave (259925) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:28AM (#13002428)
      But I wonder if this will affect enterprise adoption of MS Antispyware. Even the diehard Windows admins where I work will admit this revelation makes that product less attractive, which is a shame because it used to be possibly the best antispyware product around.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:46AM (#13002667)
        I wonder if this will affect enterprise adoption of MS Antispyware

        If this indeed checks out, Microsoft Antispyware will be removed from our regional ISP's recommendation list by the end of the day. Our customer care people presently recommend it as the first tool for spyware infections due to its previous effectiveness in identifying items that several other no-fee tools did not.

        Software that intentionally misleads users regarding the actual risk of unauthorized application behavior is malware, regardless of the vendor or intent.
        • by Shalda (560388) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:46AM (#13004062) Homepage Journal
          I have to take a small exception to this. MS Antispyware, even with the downgrade on Claria garbage, is still one of the better products out there. First, I really see two possibilities here: MS completes their acquisition of Claria, at which point Gator will likely be on the chopping block or they don't and the threat level of Gator is restored. Secondly, while it changes the recommendation on Gator, it still detects Gator and the capability to remove Gator is still there. Many users, I'd be at least 50%, will recognize Gator for the junk that it is and want to get rid of it, regardless. Also, it's likely that enough bad press will get MS to rethink the downgrade. I'll keep the tool for now.
          • by digidave (259925) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @12:05PM (#13004285)
            So at best this particular instance of MS ignoring spyware may not hurt you if you're smart enough to recognize it as spyware, but what about the future? How can you possibly trust such a product when the programmers are intentionally not removing certain spyware?

            And I disagree that most users will remove it anyway. The huge majority of users will accept the default recommendations.
            • by Shalda (560388) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @03:26PM (#13006718) Homepage Journal
              How can you possibly trust such a product

              I don't. The price of freedom is eternal vigilence. Right now, the tool is very effective and I personally have the sense to flag Gator for removal. As the product evolves, I may change my evalutation of it. Many products get affected by mergers, acquisitions and threat of lawsuits. Microsoft deserves plenty of bad press for this. But to say that I'm going to throw out my mechanics tools because one wrench is broken is just plain silly.
      • by Beatbyte (163694) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:07AM (#13002957) Homepage
        Too bad the admin's can plug the holes in the operating system more efficiently than the holes suck them dry of resources.

        If anything, this shows that future Microsoft Operating Systems:
        1) won't be anymore secure than previous versions
        2) may even bundle Claria/Gator with their products
        3) will be just as successful as their predecessors despite all of this
      • by /ASCII (86998) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:07AM (#13002959) Homepage
        You are taking this the wrong way. What has happened is that Microsoft noticed that Claria software contains bugs which in rare cases cause it to perform actions that some users might not want without first prompting the user. These actions include a problem with the automatic upgrade facility that may accidentally cause Claria software to be installed on a computer without the user requesting this. Because of this, they have contacted Claria and asked them to rewrite their software and remove all such unintended features. Claria has of course complied, and hence their software will be removed from the spyware list.

      • by coso (559844)
        Sure, when it was Giant, before the great Bill issued his "Buy 'em out boys!" directive and it has gone downhill ever since. Not that I mind personally, as all my main machines are Macs now. I don't want to spend my life running Spybot, Ad-Aware, and MS-antispyware just to get the machine back to normal. At $85 and hour it's not so bad, but these days I trust Spybot and ad-aware pro far more than MS's offering. Just the other day they caught about 35 spy/ad/bug/scumware products that the MS product just mer
    • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:30AM (#13002463) Homepage
      Microsoft generates the default actions by looking at the feedback from people who have opted to communicate their actions to Microsoft.

      Before getting into a stew it would be worthwhile considering whether it is likely that a significant number of people with Claria crap are opting to keep it.

      No way would I have Claria crap on my machine but it does appear that there are people downloading the trash intentionally.

      • Oh, come on. Microsoft may take feedback into consideration, but surely it's not the only factor in selecting the default action. And what the *hell* would motivate hundreds of thousands of users to change the default action that Microsoft recommends and keep a piece of crap like Claria? Especially considering that these are people who are clueless enough to have installed Claria in the first place.

        • by bhtooefr (649901) <`gro.rfeoothb' `ta' `rfeoothb'> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:05AM (#13002939) Homepage Journal
          Typical infection process of a Claria app, if it's downloaded legitimately (I don't recall Claria's stuff doing drive-by downloads):

          1. User sees "Free password manager", "Free calendar thingy", or "Keep your computer clock up to date" (on the last one, not knowing that their XP box has a built-in NTP client, and easy to set up, too)
          2. User downloads, and installs, not reading the EULA (as they've been taught - it's all legalese BS, after all, but there's often a string of legalese in the EULAs of these apps that boils down to "this is spyware")
          3. User wonders why computer is running so slow, so he/she calls a friend over to remove the spyware. Said friend mentions something about "Claria junk", and removes it.
          4. User sees that their little clock thingy isn't working right, and redownloads it.
          5. User again realizes that their computer is running slow, but hears about this "Microsoft AntiSpyware" thingy that helps it go faster, so they download it.
          6. On the first scan, it says "OMG! There's Claria on here!" (not really, but that'd be the general gist of the screen to a user). The user remembers that when the friend cleaned stuff off, Claria was the thing that when removed, broke the clock thingy, so he/she tells it not to erase. Default behavior is to send the actions to SpyNet, so it went to SpyNet that he/she chose to keep it.


          7. Does that sufficiently explain it?

          • oh thanks. I was wondering where my clock thingie went

          • by ad0gg (594412)
            Gator

            I actually went to visit Gator not knowing what gator is(looks like google's toolbar form completion system), Its not deceptive at all. It clearly states $30 for the program or you can get an Ad Supported version. If this definition of spyware, shouldn't Microsoft's Spyware program detect Ad supported version of Opera as spyware? Or is this some kneejerk reaction because its Microsoft and everything they do is bad?

        • And what the *hell* would motivate hundreds of thousands of users to change the default action that Microsoft recommends and keep a piece of crap like Claria?

          Perhaps the same thing that motivates a large number of people to go to the Claria site and download Claria's software on purpose?

          This is what makes anti-spyware applications difficult. Things like Claria's software do provide some useful functionality in exchange for their data gathering, and some people find that to be a worthwhile trade. They

      • by rearden (304396) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:54AM (#13002792) Homepage
        If Microsoft is going to rate spyware based on the actions taken by end users, then the product is flawed from the begining. If most users knew what caused/qualified/ acted as spyware they would not get it in the first place. I can not tell you how many times I have removed some WeatherBug or other program, and the user goes "Why, I like getting the weather" and I have to explain that all of the Pop-UPs are from the WeatherBug and they say "Why? It is just for the Weather!". I actually had one user complain to my boss that I was trying to keep her from getting the Weather!

        My point being, most users don't know or understand what is in the programs, and so the determination of their adware/ non-adware status should not be left up to them.

        Additionally, what is going to stop the AdWare networks from running bots that mark their programs as Keep or Ignore and thus flooding the SpyWareNet with false info.

        If the change comes becuse of user feed back, then the system is flawed. If the change came because MS got paid, or threatened to be sued then MS is just corrupt.
    • Its getting to the point where the owner of a Microsoft product must feel like he's on goat.se

      Windows owners are shuddering not shrugging and wondering "What choice do we have?"
      • Not really. Just use firefox and run hijackthis every so often and you should be fine. Download something from the internet and prepare to be fucked. I use firefox, gaim, thunderbird, itunes, and battlefield 2. My windows box is quite clean :]
        • Download something from the internet and prepare to be fucked. I use firefox, gaim, thunderbird, itunes, and battlefield 2.

          I'm guessing you downloaded all of those from the internet. By your own account, that makes you one of the few slashdotters who have actually had sex! ;-)
    • Sure the connection appears clear with the MS buying of Claria (rumoured), but there has been a lot of press as of late regarding how a lot of spyware (alleged) are suing anti-spy companies to get off the lists.
      Since we are "geeks" we may know what to remove and what to keep, but I feel bad for people like my grandparents who rely on anti spy 100% to make their decisions....
    • It's not that it was removed from the definitions update (i.e. that it is ignored/undetected). It is still detected.

      They just downgraded the threat level to Moderate and changed recommended action to Ignore.
      Those who care can change it to Remove. It's that easy.

      No big deal.

      I've seem some other utilities that call everything threats and/or infections - even cookies. That's even worse that MS's downgrade of Claria/Gator.
    • Honestly...is anyone surprised by this? We all saw this coming.

      Actually, I don't think anyone saw this coming. It seems low...even for Microsoft.
    • This is disgusting.

      There's Microsoft saying that in the future we should let them run our lives and give them control of our home applicances and such. Then they go and do this.

      Makes you think: In 10 - 15 years when Microsoft will probably own half the home security alarms market, I wonder what will happen if they were to acquire 'Burglers Inc.'?

      Its not hard to imagine Microsoft downgrading the threat posed by them to 'ignore' either.

      • Makes you think: In 10 - 15 years when Microsoft will probably own half the home security alarms market, I wonder what will happen if they were to acquire 'Burglers Inc.'?

        The difference between computers and burglar alarms is that people expect computers to crash and burglar alarms to work. If a burglar alarm doesn't work, it gets switched to another one; if several different burglar alarms fail to work, they get switched to rottweilers.

        "Rottweiler - the burglar alarm with teeth !" ;).

  • It could be worse... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TildeMan (472701) <gsivek@[ ].edu ['mit' in gap]> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:27AM (#13002425) Homepage
    ~sigh~ At least they're still bothering to detect it. But seriously, there isn't a "WTF" big enough to describe this, since it's probably only the tip of the iceberg...
    • I'm sure it is only the tip of the iceberg. Marketing is one of the biggest businesses in the world and Microsoft is going to cash in on their "captive audience" by using Windows to cram ads down people's throats. It'll be part of the OS. And with everyone connected to the Internet these days it's very feasible.
  • It's worrying... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by taskforce (866056) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:28AM (#13002427) Homepage
    ...how quickly corps like MS will sell out their customers to make a quick buck. This is not only found in the Spyware arena but also with companies such as Intel embedding DRM into their chips when coaked by the various entertainment industries.
  • Spy vs. Spy (Score:3, Funny)

    by DanielMarkham (765899) * on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:28AM (#13002429) Homepage
    Ok. So the anti-spyware program lets the spyware continue operating without flagging it, because it has become spyware itself by association? So now we obviously need to develop an anti-anti spyware program, to fix the problems caused by the anti-spyware, right? That is, until the anti-spyware people declare our anti-anti-spyware to be spyware, in which case we'll have to develop anti-anti-anti-spyware?
    This makes my head hurt.

    [whattofix.com]
  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:28AM (#13002433) Homepage Journal
    One has to wonder if companies such as Microsoft do things like this intentionally or, as the comment in the article indicated, simply miss some things in the wash?

    Either way it will certainly feed the gnashing-of-teeth syndrome that occurs anytime the words 'Microsoft' and 'spyware' are uttered in the same sentence.
    • by dustmite (667870) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:45AM (#13002656)

      One has to wonder if companies such as Microsoft do things like this intentionally or, as the comment in the article indicated, simply miss some things in the wash?

      Of course this was done intentionally. GAIN must be the most widespread and well-known spyware out there, do you think that a team of people working on one of the world's biggest anti-spyware programs accidentally thought it was not a threat and should be set to "ignore"? Or do you think someone "accidentally" modified the status in the database by clicking a few wrong buttons, and that quality control didn't check before a product release that their anti-spyware program happens to ignore the world's biggest spyware? There is just no way this happened by mistake.

  • by syntap (242090) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:28AM (#13002443)
    Why would anyone rely on a security product of any kind owned by the same people as the OS? Not only are users subjected to this kind of tomfoolery, but in general marketing a security product for your own operating system is like correcting your own spelling test... best left to a third party.

    Spyware works because Microsoft designed their softwarein such a way that lets it work. The premise of trusting their anti-spyware tools is ludicrous.
  • Confirmed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Steinfiend (700505) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:29AM (#13002447)
    First thing is we need to make sure these images are real. We have been caught with faked images many times before. If they are then I think all it really does is reinforce the need to run multiple anti-spyware utilities.

    When a for-profit organization releases a product that can adversely (or positively) affect another for-profit organization we must expect, at least sometimes, to have some negative effects on the consumer. Its a capitalist society and companies are free to do anything and everything they need to maximize profits, within the scope of the law.
    • >I think all it really does is reinforce the need to run multiple anti-spyware utilities.

      OR you could simply run Linux...
      • Re:Confirmed (Score:3, Informative)

        by dustmite (667870)

        Indeed, OR Mac OS X .. no spyware so far here either.

        • Thanks, 'mite.

          I wasn't sure about that.
          I've been developing for OSX for a very short while now but not running it as a user.

          On the face of it, OSX, or almost ANY other OS is better than Windows.

          However, I read that there is only ONE OS so far that has plugged ICMP's holes and others before anyone else: OpenBSD. I hope everyone takes a hint from them.
      • Re:Confirmed (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Steinfiend (700505)
        Argh! Second time today that I'm going to be suckered into a discussion I shouldn't get into. I really need to work on my self control.

        Personally, I do run Linux as my primary OS, with an install of Windows 2000 for all those times Linux just won't do. It's probably an 80/20 thing, maybe more, maybe less, depending on what I'm doing that day. Things like Photoshop, Dreamweaver and other "productivity apps" either don't have a Linux equivalent or don't have an equally functional Linux Equivalent. This
        • Allright, I WAS a bit glib.

          I've dumped Windows and switched to Gentoo.

          It's been two years and I am much more satisfied with Linux than Windows. Easy. Hands down.

          It wasn't easy because I went the geek-route and compiled from source and everything, but that's just me.

          There are plenty of no-hassle Linux distros out there that have everything that Windows has, really, I just wanted something more custom, which Linux permits me to have.

          As for apps that you can only find on Windows, well, sure, there might b
    • by bedelman (42523)
      I independently observed the same thing -- Claria set to Ignore within MSAS. See image on my site, final paragraph of http://www.benedelman.org/news/063005-1.html [benedelman.org] .
    • Yes, it's real (Score:4, Informative)

      by Morinaga (857587) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:00AM (#13003598)
      At least the information is accurate. www.spywarewarrior.com reported on this last week (An excellent malware blog/information site). http://netrn.net/spywareblog/archives/2005/07/01/m icrosoft-antispyware-ignores-claria/ [netrn.net]

      Part of the article...

      Sunbeltblog reports: A brief check of our database updates from Microsoft shows that Claria adware has been set to a default action of "Ignore" since at least early June (Claria continues to be listed in our database with a default action of "Quarantine").

      You might recall that Microsoft acquired its antispyware application from GIANT, who had a close business relationship with Sunbelt Software. As part of the deal, Sunbelt continues to receive definitions from Microsoft until June 2007. Sunbelt, however, has its own research team and adds its own definitions to the database in addition to what they get from Microsoft.

      In the current Spyware Weekly newsletter, Mike Healan of SpywareInfo.com comments:

      I can't imagine what they are thinking at Microsoft. I would be hard pressed to think of a better way for Microsoft to alienate their users. I certainly hope that the opposition from within Microsoft prevails and that this deal dies on the negotiating table.

      Ben Edelman has updated his write up to include the news of the changed detections.

      This is exactly the kind of conflict of interest I worried about three paragraphs above--but I didn't anticipate how quickly this problem would come into effect!

      Wayne Porter, blogging at ReveNews calls it Conflict of Interest 102 His site at SpywareGuide.com reports, interestingly enough, that Gator (Claria) is currently the top detection. See the site for full the top 10 list.

      1 Gator 6.55% 2 MySearch 5.53% 3 CoolWebSearch 4.38% 4 180 Search Assistant 4.02%

  • by mytec (686565) * on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:30AM (#13002461) Journal

    This sort of thing boils my blood. There is a certain level of trust I have with a vendor who provides detection and removal of spyware, etc. I've not payed as much attention as maybe I should have, but what other vendors are strong in detecting spyware that don't give in or at least haven't thus far? The product they purchased from Giant was really good to boot. Doesn't take look for the MS taint to occur, does it?

    Unrelated, I get the impression, MS doesn't need more competent competition to fail. Instead, they need to continue doing just what they are doing. Between moves like this, the failure to manage projects, etc. they are hurting themselves just fine and making everything that isn't MS look better.

    Every so often the MS marketing machine almost gets me to believe they might be changing. The developer blogs have helped a lot in that respect. Then MS does something like this. On the one hand they say they are concerned about this threat and then, not too long into the future, they pull a move like this which says the exact opposite.

  • I'm not trolling, I don't work for this company, but I've used it for a year, switched from IE to Firefox, and I'm done with spyware under XP:

    http://www.webroot.com/ [webroot.com]

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:30AM (#13002470)
    Microsoft purchased the Sasser source code, and has now removed the Sasser definition from it's Antivirus Suites.
  • Photoshop? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stinerman (812158) <`nathan.stine' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:30AM (#13002474) Homepage
    I'd like to see independent evidence before jumping to conclusions [slashdot.org]. Anyone want to install Gator and test it themselves? :-)
    • Re:Photoshop? (Score:5, Informative)

      by crimoid (27373) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:40AM (#13002605)
      Just tried to let IE install one of their apps and MS AntiSpyware caught it, flagging it with Moderate.

      To their credit though you had to dig to find the Moderate label. The first thing a user will see is a rather largish (scary looking) red box encouraging them to block the software.
  • Not surprising, but still pretty damn funny. I'm fairly impressed tho, I really would have thought Microsoft wouldn't think itself able to afford this kind of press.
  • Conflict of interest (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Divide By Zero (70303) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:31AM (#13002484)
    Consumer Reports doesn't accept outside advertising - it'd compromise their ability to do their job.

    This is why you want your anti-spyware company making anti-spyware software and nothing else. Of all the software I've installed at one point or another, I remember Gator (along with later versions of Kazaa) being the worst about installing obnoxious unwanted software, not mentioning it, and then the software is a pain in the ass to remove. It clearly SHOULD be targeted by any software out there purporting to keep the user's best interests in mind, but Microsoft the Fox is, once again, guarding the henhouse that is your computer.

    Anybody who puts their sole trust in a MS spyware-protector deserves what they get, especially when MS starts buying up spyware companies.
  • I use Ad-Aware, Spybot AND Microsoft Anti Spyware for spyware detection.
    The chances of all 3 not detecting (and offering to remove) something are remote at best.
    • Just curious, how does that affect performance?

      I'm assuming since you (probably) aren't continously downloading and installing software it wouldn't be much of a problem. But I've also seen "idle" processes eat a lot of resources on occasion (like MS Word with just a new, empty document open).

      • Of the three only MS(Giant) anti-spyware is an active process like an antivirus scanner. Spybot will add a bunch of sites to the blocked sites list in IE, and will monitor certain registry keys for changes, but it doesn't scan incoming files. Ad-Aware only has a realtime option in the paid versions. I personally haven't tried it yet as my new employer doesn't have much of a spyware problem (user education and spyware services in the firewall).
  • Microsoft were supposedly more interested in the long-term potential of Claria's personalization software than its pop-up ads. Yeah, right. Once again, Microsoft say one thing and do another. This also gives us a good indication of the trustworthiness of Microsoft's antispyware application.
  • A few people I have spoken with have been telling me how wonderfull this free tool is. I pointed out I don't need said tool as I just run a better OS but now I have a much better comeback next time someone praises MS for releasing this hehe.
  • How Long (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:34AM (#13002527) Journal

    How long before MS integrates Gator into the OS where it cannot be removed without corrupting the system?

    • Blockquoth the poster:

      How long before MS integrates Gator into the OS where it cannot be removed without corrupting the system?

      You mean, you've managed to successfully remove it now? :)
  • by Noryungi (70322) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:35AM (#13002531) Homepage Journal
    Is this: never use Microsoft products, even on Windows machines, if you have an equivalent.

    Therefore, I offer the following:



    And, of course, the usual suspects: Firefox, Thunderbird, Open Office, etc... This is not just a good idea, it's THE LAW on the networks I manage!

    Replace your Microsoft software today and avoid 90% of all problems that plague other Windows users.

    You are welcome.
    • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@@@tpno-co...org> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:25AM (#13003216) Homepage
      Replace your Microsoft software today and avoid 90% of all problems that plague other Windows users

      Sadly, on a network of any respectable size, this is a hard thing to accoplish. On my simple network of 50 stations I am forced to work with software that requires IE6.x, poweruser access along with unfettered access to the internet. It communicates over https, but it won't work through a proxy, so I have to open it up entirely.

      I have a few apps that simply require power user along with some other weirdness.

      So while I'd like to get rid of as many MS packages as possible, it's usually not practical.
  • of *course* MS have to change the detection for this, they've just bought the company. otherwise we'd all be laughing at them for removing their own software.

    but i say it's(hould be) irrelevant: just don't run as Admin and don't use IE and you won't have any spyware to remove...

    • They claimed that they wanted Gator not for its popup software but for the personalization.

      This sounds fishy to me. Microsoft doesn't want their products to look bad, and they know that people hate Gator's popup ads, at least in their present form.

      Microsoft shouldn't be protecting old Gator products. They want to take it and modify it to be at least as invasive but less obvious about it. You should expect Gator to be arriving on your system via Windows update, less obnoxious but a lot harder to remove (
  • I can confirm (Score:5, Informative)

    by Slayback (12197) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:43AM (#13002634)
    Just yesterday I was helping a neighbor clean-up his girlfriend's parents' computer (how do I get roped into things like that?) So, I install the 3 big ad-removers; Spybot S&D, Adaware, and MS AntiSpyware. I ran the MS one first since Spybot kept crashing when doing the cleanup (very mean buggers). I noticed that the Claria stuff was all set to ignore after it detected it. I didn't think much of it and set all of them to quarantine, but I did think it was a little odd.

    Anyways, CONFIRMED.
    • Tip for you.

      install Spybot and Adaware, update them. reboot into SAFE MODE.

      then run the programs to clean the computer. works faster and easier cince most spycrap is not running because of safe mode.

      BTW, upgrade to clamwin for antivirus, it is detecting some of the nastier spyware as viruses.
  • by CrazyWingman (683127) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:44AM (#13002647) Journal
    Come on now, all, there is probably a completely reasonable explanation for this. You know, like their software can only handle 1023 programs being classified as "Quarantine". They just had to clear some out to make room. :P

    Friggin' M$.
  • by Bronz (429622) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:51AM (#13002740)
    We've all put up with fixing Windows for a living or maybe circle of family and friends. If your really unlucky, both. When I think about the time I've put into getting spyware off my [Pastor's, Father's, Sister's] computer, and then consider that Microsoft is (inexplicably?) getting into the Spyware game themselves, it's time to stop.

    At this point I'm only supporting OS X and recommending anyone to get a Mac Mini when applicable. The world has moved on, the browser is the new platform, and it's time to stop supporting Microsoft if they continue to make the user experience miserable.

    People might still complain a Mac Mini is expensive, but if you stop fixing Windows for them -- those Best Buy Geek Squad visits aren't cheap, either.

  • by shr3k (451065) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @09:51AM (#13002745) Homepage
    At first people thought:

    1. MS buying Giant means putting a great anti-spyware product into Windows. Windows becomes *stronger* at stopping such attacks.

    2. MS possibly buying Claria means that Microsoft could eliminate one of the biggest pieces of spyware out there. In other words, Claria/Gator becomes *weaker*.

    Now, it's possible that things will look like this:

    1. Anti-spyware becomes *weaker*.
    2. Claria/Gator becomes *stronger*.

    So much for doing the right thing(s).
  • Hey, look at the bright side, at least it detects their software and doesn't ignore it completely! Can anyone else tell me a company that would not do the same? Anti-anti-spyware anyone?
  • Yeah I know cheesy subject but hey why not. In any case MS doing this is an embarrassment to themselves and really a discredit on their posture of trying to make a more secure OS... From the article it says that the default is ignore but hey you can change it to Quarantine or Remove, but then you would be trying to change a MS configuration so watch out for BSOD.
  • How much spyware? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fwice (841569) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:07AM (#13002960)
    I've got multiple boxes at my place, and while most of them are Linux / BSD, I keep windows on a laptop. I've brought this laptop (running win2k pro) to different wireless hotspots, different ethernet lan hookups, and even into my friends apartments and hopped on their lan, with insecure machines.

    My laptop does not have an antivirus, spyware remover, or firewall. However, I've never had a problem. Probably because I update windows every time I use the computer and I disabled all but the imperative system services. And I've never had a virus, spyware, or any other sort of issue. Then again, I use firefox w/ flashblock & adblock and the like.

    Is this the case for other slashdotters? Or am I the luckiest person this side of the Atlantic?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:08AM (#13002972)
    Remember this?

    January 7, 2005
    Betting a Billion
    Bob's Predictions for 2005
    By Robert X. Cringely

    1) Microsoft's entry into the anti-virus and anti-spyware businesses will be a disaster for users. This is based on everything I know about Microsoft, having watched the company for almost 28 years. They will make a big fanfare, spend a lot of marketing dollars, but in the end, the company simply won't be able to keep up with the demands of keeping virus signatures current, which isn't the real point of this gambit, anyway. There is so much to this story and so much that I could write that I think I'll do so next week, and just move on to the next prediction.
  • Serious Question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nethershaw (892580)
    I'm wondering: if anyone out there actually still trusts Microsoft (rhetoric: of course, some people do), is there any demonstrably good reason for that trust or are they just ignorant/apathetic?

    I suppose another way to ask this question is why the Revolution(tm) hasn't come yet...
  • Microsoft will be outsourcing its Anti-Spyware division to eXact Advertising and will be HQ'd out of its BargainBuddy department...

    Yes this is meant to be a joke so don't try to sue me for libel Bill!
  • by gizm0it (894760) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:18AM (#13003107)
    Proof that Bill Gates is the Devil The real name of "the" Bill Gates is William Henry Gates III. Nowadays he is known as Bill Gates (III), where "III" means the order of third (3rd.) By converting the letters of his current name to the ASCII-values and adding his (III), you get the following: B 66 I 73 L 76 L 76 G 71 A 65 T 84 E 69 S 83 + 3 -------------- 666 !! Some might ask, "How did Bill Gates get so powerful?" Coincidence? Or just the beginning of mankind's ultimate and total enslavement??? Before you decide, consider the following: M S - D O S 6 . 2 1 77+83+45+68+79+83+32+54+46+50+49 = 666 W I N D O W S 9 5 87+73+78+68+79+87+83+57+53+1 = 666 Coincidence? You decide...
  • by gadlaw (562280) <.moc.waldag. .ta. .treblig.> on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:19AM (#13003121) Homepage Journal
    I don't know why anyone would think otherwise. Everything that Microsoft puts on your computer wants to call back home and report on what you do and how you do it. Everything Claria trys to put on your computer wants to call back home and report your every action and keystroke. So running any 'Microsoft spyware' in the first place is like letting a burglar watch your home. What did you expect would eventually happen?
  • Microsoft has an anti-spyware program? (First time for hearing about it for I)

    Seriously though. I don't trust their built in firewall or really any "built in" functions that need to be very reliable (read: IE).

    Windows is just the platform for which I base all of my decent applications, which consists primarily of OOS projects with many eyes on them that pass my paranoid threshold. (Why don't I just use linux you say? "Games" is the only reason from making the switch, although I'll most likely end up d
  • by handy_vandal (606174) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @10:40AM (#13003413) Homepage Journal
    A week after word leaked out that Microsoft was negotiating an acquisition deal with Claria (See recent /. coverage), spyware researchers have noticed that the Windows antispyware application has downgraded Claria's Gator detections and changed the recommended action from 'quarantine' to 'ignore.'

    A week after I start dating some totally hot babe, event though she's a nagging idiot, I've downgraded my idiot detections and changed my recommended action from "quarantine" to "ignore".

    -kgj
  • Not just Claria. (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArcCoyote (634356) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:13AM (#13003717)
    MSAS leaves all "Moderate" threats at Ignore, because they are often relatively well-behaved components of ad-supported software.

    MS isn't dumb, and they have criteria for determining what is a moderate/high/critical spyware threat. A lot of times it comes from feedback to SpyNet. If adware comes bundled with an ad-supported product, doesn't hijack your browser, and removes cleanly when you uninstall the software it supports, it's a only moderate threat.

    MS is also a big legal target and a monster in the eyes of many smaller software companies. They'd be getting sued non-stop if MSAS indiscriminately removed the adware from ad-supported products.

    I did a cleanup of a seriously crufted-up machine last night. Claria, 180Solutions, WhenU, Comet Cursors were all set to Ignore. Kazaa and BearShare were set to Quarantine, and quarantining them would have snagged the adware they came bundled with.

    CoolWebSearch, VX2, and the other real bastards were rated "Critical Risk" and set to "Remove."

    I set everything to "Remove" and MSAS did just that without problems. Can't really complain.
  • by Glamdrlng (654792) on Thursday July 07, 2005 @11:49AM (#13004096)
    This has been and always will be Microsoft's downfall. They just can't resist dipping their hands in the money jar. You can't compromise your alleged integrity and at the same time expect to be a trusted purveyor of security software.
  • I'm not convinced. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SnprBoB86 (576143) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:26PM (#13014263) Homepage
    As stated in my sig, I don't hate Microsoft. Initially, I was shocked by this /. article, but after a little bit of thought, I could see this as being a very reasonable change.

    Hear me out...

    Microsoft buys Claria/Gator/whatever-it-is. Microsoft shuts down the server that collected the stollen customer information. The "spy" part of the spyware is now completely harmless. Additionally, Microsoft may have examined the source code and discovered that it's installation makes some change to Windows that may be dangerous to undo. An ad-supported application could cease to function, or worse.

    As this spyware is effectively no longer spying, it is less of a threat and removal of it could be potentially problematic, so the default should be the safest choice: ignore.

    I may be wrong, but I think this is a perfectly logical and moral change.

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