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Digsby IM Client Quietly Installs Badware 259

Posted by kdawson
from the pushing-the-envelope-and-the-bounds-of-good-taste dept.
An anonymous reader writes "IM company Digsby has quietly included malware in an update to their client software that utilizes users' computing power and bandwidth while idle for a quick buck. When questioned, developers at Digsby claim that they have done no wrong and that users should not complain because the client software is 'free.'" The money-making distributed computing software is in addition to six "crapware" apps that users must refuse during installation. The terms of service that no one ever reads does describe the CPU- and bandwidth-robbing moneymaker, and its off switch is located behind the "Support Digsby" menu item.
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Digsby IM Client Quietly Installs Badware

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  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:42AM (#29066473)
    However, open source means that if enough people complain, someone is going to release a fork of it removing those "features", maintain compatibility for patches, and end up with a better product. For example, Chrome had some annoyances, for one its privacy was questionable at best and it had no adblocker, but since Chrome had an open source project (Chromium) developers were able to fork that and make SRWare Iron ( http://www.srware.net/en/software_srware_iron.php [srware.net] ) which removes these privacy issues and adds in an adblocker. Forks are a natural part of software development and occasionally are forked to prove a point to the often stubborn developers, after the fork gets popular usually the developer relents and adds in or removes the offending code and the fork ceases to exist.
  • by MistrBlank (1183469) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:45AM (#29066505)

    Agreed, Digsby on the other hand is utilizing what should be idle horsepower. While this may seem innocuous since it is not being used by other stuff, it does not come without cost.

    I have a computer tuned to speedstep down and use less power when idled. That means I spend less money per month to run that system. Power costs money, so in effect, Digsby is costing you money by doing this. Granted this may only be a fraction of a cent, multiplied by a few people monthly...well I'm sure you all saw the movie.

    IT IS A BIG DEAL.

  • Re:Free or not... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Friday August 14, 2009 @11:59AM (#29066707) Homepage Journal
    Nice little rant that I completely agree with. But I honestly think this needs some legal power behind it. Not just for software either. I don't want anymore "Fat free" foods that aren't fat free. I don't want anymore "Free trials" that automatically sign me up for a pay service that I have to cancel. And I definitely don't want anymore "Buy one get one free" where the "free" ends up being a mail in rebate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:21PM (#29066999)

    This can add up to much more than a fraction of a cent per person. Comparing electric bills with BOINC stuff running, and without, showed a difference of over $100.

  • Re:FOSS, maybe? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@nospaM.gmail.com> on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:29PM (#29067101)

    Kopete is a really terrible application that I could never suggest anybody use, unless they really hate the alternatives.

    --signed, a kopete user...

  • Re:Badware? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ankur Dave (929048) <ankurdave+slashdot@gmail.com> on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:29PM (#29067119) Homepage

    While I agree with you that making up words is annoying, badware is different from malware: http://stopbadware.org/home/badware [stopbadware.org]

    It's a broader term that includes adware as well as directly malicious software. I don't think malware has the same scope.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:31PM (#29067153)

    And they were right. They could add ads. And they did. And likely increased their profit. I don't see the problem here, really... it's up to them to decide whether or not they can sell ads. It's up to game players whether or not it's worth $50 to them or not. If the gaming community is willing to pay $50, I don't honestly see why they can't charge $50.

  • by Mean Variance (913229) <mean.variance@gmail.com> on Friday August 14, 2009 @12:48PM (#29067389)

    Aren't there about for zillion great free IM applications out there already? Why would someone use this one? What is the specific draw?

    I used it to combine my Yahoo IM and Twitter feeds (yes, I follow certain people/things in Twitter). Also, it notified me about emails. Alas, I speak of it in the past tense. It was a nice program, but I was always a little leery about whether Digsby was doing something I didn't like. I noticed on IE, which I rarely use, that the search said "Google Search powered by Digsby." I knew that meant I missed a checkbox during the annoying install process.

    I uninstalled using Revo. The Digsby uninstaller left a bunch of crap leftover. I've tried different IM clients and I still end up back at Yahoo's default IM with its flaws. For Twitter feeds, I have moved to Thwirl which uses Adobe AIR. I'm not sure if AIR has any negative issues yet. For email notifications, I've fallen back to Gmail Manager as a Firefox add-on.

    I'm one of those who likes to try the next popular shiny object, e.g. Digsby, but I often fall back to some old reliable source.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 14, 2009 @01:19PM (#29067837)

    I'm actually scared that this is modded insightful unless it's the usual clueless/no brain behind it bot crap.

    You're advocating one more piece of malware/virus crap that no sensible user would want on their system or give permissions to install if they really understood what it does?!

    I don't quite care if it's "beneficial". I do not want malicious software that doesn't do what it says that it does on my system!

    My computer/hardware is mine. It is not a platform to you to install software on without my permission! I don't care what it fucking does. It could be an application guaranteed to cure cancer - and I would fucking kick it to the curb if it wasn't installed with my permission!

    There's just a slight issue of trust there.

    Why is that so fucking hard to understand!?

  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Friday August 14, 2009 @01:31PM (#29068025)
    For me it's about a $30-$40/month bump when I run BOINC. Granted it is on multiple computers but that also includes the extra air conditioning to keep the place cool. At least during the winter they all act like heaters - something I would be doing anyway.
  • Re:FOSS, maybe? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ambiguous Puzuma (1134017) on Friday August 14, 2009 @01:36PM (#29068099)

    As of a few months ago, kopete occasionally dropped messages silently (confirmed via other channels). I switched to pidgin and no longer had to restart the program each time a "still there?" question went unanswered.

    For webcam support on yahoo, gyachi [sourceforge.net] works nearly flawlessly for me.

  • Re:Free or not... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 14, 2009 @01:44PM (#29068253) Journal

    You have to ask yourself, would people not install my "free" software if they knew what it was doing - if the answer is anywhere close to yes, you have a moral obligation to reveal the details.

    I take a bit of a different angle. From the T&C they post:

    "15. USAGE OF COMPUTER RESOURCES.
    You agree to permit the Software to use the processing power of your computer when it is idle to run downloaded algorithms (mathematical equations) and code within a process. You understand that when the Software uses your computer, it likewise uses your CPU, bandwidth, and electrical power. The Software will use your computer to solve distributed computing problems, such as but not limited to, accelerating medical research projects, analyzing the stock market, searching the web, and finding the largest known prime number. This functionality is completely optional and you may disable it at any time."

    Why not honestly promote this in a completely transparent way, and do it with some class? Something like:

    "We hope you enjoy this software, which you are receiving at no charge. In order to help us fund continued development we've partnered with a company that is making great strides in coming up with research into a number of medical conditions. You probably know someone who has a family member who has cancer/Parkinson's/Alzheimer's/whatever. By allowing calculations to run on your computer when it's not doing anything else, you can help put a stop to these diseases and find a cure. It's a win-win. Your computer is being used for good, and Digsby gets a penny now and then. It's our hope that if enough people participate, those pennies will add up and, besides, helping out is the right thing to do. Would you like to participate?"

    Appeal to their emotions, up-front and honestly, and I think you'll see voluntary adoption for things like this.

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