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Life-Ruining Browser Hijackers 861

LehiNephi writes "If you're not diligent enough at whacking malware on your computer, you could end up in jail, whether or not you actually did something wrong. Hijacked browsers can not only annoy you with a never-ending string of pop-ups, they leave a less-than-virtuous browser history behind on your computer. This guy claims that some piece of malware hijacked his home page, opened an unstoppable chain of pop-ups, and filled his cache with porn. He now has to register as a sex offender, even though he denies that he did anything his computer says he did. Makes me glad for built in pop-up blocking in Mozilla."
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Life-Ruining Browser Hijackers

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  • Probably... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Metallic Matty ( 579124 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:51PM (#9122296)
    He was probably looking at porn in the first place. Not that I think that condones him being a register sex offender. But that was probably what started his sexual onslaught. (A lot of the porn sites love browser tricks, just one more reason for the avid geek to use Mozilla.)
  • by panic911 ( 224370 ) * on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:52PM (#9122305) Homepage
    Was the guys cache filled with child porn or something?

    How does looking at porn make you a sex offender? If it's illegal then arrest me right now.
    • by KingOfBLASH ( 620432 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:10PM (#9122495) Journal
      Was the guys cache filled with child porn or something? How does looking at porn make you a sex offender? If it's illegal then arrest me right now.

      Some explanatory paragraphs from the article:

      "When I used search engines, sometimes I got a lot of porn pop-ups," Jack said. "Sometimes I was sent to illegal porn sites. When I tried to close one, another five would be opened without my will. They changed my start page, wrote a lot of illegal porn links in favorites. The only way to stop this was turn the (computer's) power off. But when I dialed up to my server again, I started with illegal site, then got the same pop-ups. There were illegal pictures in pop-ups."

      Security experts who were asked to review Jack's claims said it is possible that a browser hijacker could have been the reason porn images were found on Jack's computer. But they also pointed out some discrepancies in the story.

      Some of the images were found in unallocated file space, and would have to have been placed there deliberately since cached images from browsing sessions wouldn't have been stored in unallocated space.

      Brian Rothery, a former IBM systems engineer who has been researching Jack's claims, pointed out that a significant portion of the images and URLs cited in the arrest papers are from fairly tame nudist sites, as well as adult sites that do not contain illegal materials.

    • by bwy ( 726112 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:39PM (#9122716)
      These days, any combination of innocent things can make a trial by jury a very dangerous thing for an innocent person.

      Case in point. Say a neighbor asks if his kid can come over to my house one afternoon for help with his math homework or something. Say the kid isn't as well adjusted as I thought, and tells everyone I touched him.

      Well, that alone means I am now guilty in todays world. But enter the detectives. They take my PC and find that I have some porn in my cache. Most of it is adult porn which is bad enough. But then they go and do ID checks on some of the pics and turns out the girls were mature looking 16 year olds. Fuck, now I'm just sick- a true pedophile.

      By now, the community has been told who I am. There are posters up in my neighborhood. My employer fires me. Even if I don't get convicted for some reason, my life is still over. And if I do get convicted, I'm now taking it in the butt in some federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison. In which case I'd probably kill myself.

      Anybody can disagree with me if they like, but this kind of shit isn't a stretch. The story was bad enough even if I didn't have porn on my box, but that fact just kind of seals the deal.
      • by AKnightCowboy ( 608632 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @10:03PM (#9123355)
        Case in point. Say a neighbor asks if his kid can come over to my house one afternoon for help with his math homework or something.

        Why would you be tutoring a neighbor kid anyway? you might as well just avoid all the other steps and register yourself as a sex offender right off the bat. I make sure to NEVER talk to my neighbors and always hurry from the car to the house without making eye contact with them if they try to start a conversation. One almost ambushed me and stood between me and my door but I kicked him in the nuts and ran into the house.

    • by zoloto ( 586738 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @10:17PM (#9123447)
      Here are some sites for those of you with enough memory to create a RAM drive for your cache:\

      Link 1 []
      Link 2 []
      Link 3 (BEST) []

      The last one has MANY ways to create a ram disk. Just fyi actually. You know, if you dont' want people to find what you have done on your hard drive, just set up one of these and set the history/cache/etc to a ram drive and every time you reboot - PRESTO! No trace at all!...

      Hope that helps.
  • Caught in the Act? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by coupland ( 160334 ) * <[dchase] [at] []> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:52PM (#9122306) Journal

    While I respect this guys rights and wouldn't presume to accuse him of anything, I certainly cannot defend him without reading the court transcripts. ANYONE who was caught in the act of downloading kiddie porn would claim their PC was "hi-jacked" so I don't think this is a defense of any kind, in and of itself. I don't think the feds are technically literate, but I also don't think they're fools. I have a hard time believing they charged someone with downloading kiddie-porn when all that really happened was he saw some pop-ups, like you and I (unfortunately) see a million times a day. Something else took place here.

    • by bcore ( 705121 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:56PM (#9122357)
      After all, how often do you see pop-ups with child porn on 'em? I certainly know I never do, even when I'm forced to use IE

      The dude in question claims that he bought the computer on eBay, which is a whole other ball of wax. If you buy a used computer, and can prove you did so, are you legally responsible for what might have been on it when you bought it?

      I totally have no idea what the right answer to that would be.
      • by Chump1422 ( 196125 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:35PM (#9122693)
        You're not responsible if someone else put porn on your computer. Crimes generally require 2 elements (I'm a law student):

        1) Mens Rea, or intent. Clearly no intent there. Sometimes crimes don't require this, but almost all do. Intent might be satisfied by meaning to download a "barely legal" video, though. It's like if you swear she looked 18, you can still go to jail for statutory rape.

        2) Actus Reus, or criminal act. Depending on the statute, possession might be a crime. So he could be liable just for that.

        It's unlikely he would be found guilty without at least meaning to download something pornographic.
    • by sfjoe ( 470510 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:01PM (#9122414)
      I have a hard time believing they charged someone with downloading kiddie-porn when all that really happened was he saw some pop-ups, like you and I (unfortunately) see a million times a day.

      Yes, because we all know that the feds are only interested in charging criminals and never ever arrest someone for the newsworthiness of their arrest. Just ask Richard Jewell []

  • by Tuxedo Jack ( 648130 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:52PM (#9122307) Homepage
    But now the Transponder gang (ABetterInternet) are making .xpis to install their shit in Firefox/Mozilla.

    And yes, CoolWebSearch is a goddamned pain to get rid of. New variants are immune to Merijn's CWShredder; they require specialized tools (pv.exe, TheKillBox) to remove, and some even require booting to a command line (nearly impossible in XP/2000).

    One guy at my office accidentally got some CWS variants on his machine, and the IT department - myself included - went through the router logs (school district, have to keep the logs, state law here) to see where he got it. This resulted in his getting fired (free pr0n site, and yes, he was logged in as himself).

    In short, these little bastards really _can_ ruin your life and your machine.
    • by poulbailey ( 231304 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:06PM (#9122463)
      > But now the Transponder gang (ABetterInternet) are making .xpis to install their shit in Firefox/Mozilla.

      The Mozilla team is actively battling that. I'm confident that they won't let the situation escalate to IE proportions.

      Firefox 0.9 will have a whitelisting permission system that disallows the installation of XPIs that don't come from trusted sites. It'll ship with a default list and let you add to it yourself as well.

      It'll also block XPI installation triggered via onload, onmouseout and onmouseover. Check out bug 240552 and bug 238684 on Bugzilla for more on these issues (not linked because of a /. referer check).
  • by need2jive ( 588990 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:52PM (#9122312)
    I seriously doubt that anything would be convicted as a sex offender just by a hisory of websites that his browser had been pointed to in the past. There has to be more to this than what we know.
  • Technical error (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 42forty-two42 ( 532340 ) <`bdonlan' `at' `'> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:54PM (#9122328) Homepage Journal
    Some of the images were found in unallocated file space, and would have to have been placed there deliberately since cached images from browsing sessions wouldn't have been stored in unallocated space.
    All that means is that the cache got full, and those pictures were deleted. There's no point in putting data in unallocated space to begin with, and anyone with the technical skills to do so (add data without allocating a file) wouldn't be caught so easily.
  • Hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dkirchge ( 678383 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:55PM (#9122337)
    I may be expecting too much here, but it seems logical to me that even the most clueless luser might suspect that something was amiss if a flood of porn started popping up out of nowhere and at least ask a literate friend what's up. Like the first poster, I'm a little suspicious that this type of problem could go unnoticed for very long.
  • Spyware Woes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RabidChicken ( 684107 ) <andrew AT andrewstuckey DOT com> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:57PM (#9122370) Homepage
    I love Mozilla Firefox, love it. The AdBlock plugin and a custom host file keep me free of almost all ads, flash banners, and otherwise annoying Internet ads.
    However, we like to preach about just switch and all your problems go away. For the most part that holds true, a switch to Linux, or even just Mozilla infinitely improves the quality of the computer.
    However, most of the spyware comes as a result of user initiated stupidity or ignorance.
    Now I understand stupid default choices by Microsoft and browser cause most of these problems, but if Linux does become a major player on the desktop (god willing) I think we will see more crappy scumware. Linux isn't a magic pill, just a better designed OS. It isn't idiot proof.
    Right now I'm going to keep on recommending Firefox and keep getting signatures to get my school to, but in the future, I hope at least most of these problems will go away with the switch to linux (but I doubt it).
  • by Gldm ( 600518 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @07:57PM (#9122372)
    Where you don't need to do anything damaging or hurtful to commit a crime, just have the wrong information on your computer.

    Yay for removal of civil liberties. Oh did the sites any of the images came from get sued? Of course not, it's not their fault they're publishing illegal material (if it even is illegal).

    Because we all know looking at pictures is bad. I mean people always do bad things they see in pictures, right? I just can't wait until they finish the thought listening machine so we won't even need pictures for evidence. It'll just be "Hey you! You had bad thoughts about that person, you're obviously going to act on them, get in jail!" Or "Hey you, you thought about doing drugs! We can't have people using untaxed substances to enjoy themselves without hurting others, get in jail so you can learn to become a good consumer of only the harmful products our society approves of and generates money from at the expense of public health!" or "Hey you! You thought the person in charge of this country might be wrong! That's obviously not allowed, come here so we can kill you!"
    • by isorox ( 205688 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:10PM (#9122503) Homepage Journal
      Because we all know looking at pictures is bad.


      In other news everyone in the world that's seen the news in the last 2 weeks is being arrested.
  • Mozilla (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ryan Stortz ( 598060 ) <ryan0rz&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:00PM (#9122398)
    Not only will Mozilla (and Firefox)'s built-in popup blocking help you. They also do not support ActiveX scripting. You have to get a plugin for it, and even once you have the plugin installed the controlls are tighter.

    Who's the moron that thought it'd be cool to embed executable code in a web page anyway? Well, he's not as big of a moron as the guy who let it execute ANY code.
  • This... (Score:5, Funny)

    by labratuk ( 204918 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:00PM (#9122402)
    This reminds me of the saying "Nobody ever got fired for choosing Windows".

    "No, but it did get someone registered as a sex offender."
  • by Anubis333 ( 103791 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:11PM (#9122507) Homepage
    Malware is here to stay. I clean it of the computers of friends and family constantly. You can't hide behind Mozilla -or anything for the matter. You can use Ad-Aware [] or the like, and that's about it. I gave up on trying to make others understand what 'safe browsing' habits are. Malware no longer requires you to click 'ok' to something. It just hijacks your system on page load. I myself had a Java based trojan install an ftp daemon in my system folder with an INI file that had accounts named 'xdcc-warez' etc.. I am very secure, but I wouldn't have known about this intruder unless my firewall would have reported the ftp daemon opening the port.

    I have tried many types of virus protection and I refuse to run them. Symantec 2004 'Pro' or 'Corporate' is EXTREMELY intrusive. With *ALL* the auto search and protection off, it still runs many services that take over 15mb of ram! McAffee and everything else is about the same. I am all about performance, I will not have adware and virus protection software scanning every file written to my HD, every word doc I open, email I send, or page i visit; that's ridiculous; not to mention with all those things of, the services are still there for some reason. Also, I don't need a HUGE GUI interface with animated gifs and crap.

    Spyware is here to stay, get some somewhat non-intrusive software to protect your family and friends, and as for yourself, I guess just check your firewall, and/or have it alert you when a weird program or service wants access.
    • mmmmm.... F-Prot... Run it on a 200MHz Pentium with 64MB of RAM and you wouldn't know it was there. Small program, small memory usage, and updated almost twice a day.
    • by Foolhardy ( 664051 ) <> on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @09:00PM (#9122871)
      I myself had a Java based trojan install an ftp daemon in my system folder with an INI file that had accounts named 'xdcc-warez' etc.. I am very secure, but I wouldn't have known about this intruder unless my firewall would have reported the ftp daemon opening the port.
      Very secure? Running as an Administrator isn't secure. How did it create files in your system directory (assuming %SYSTEMROOT%\SYSTEM32 or anything else under \WINDOWS)? Non-admins don't have permission to create files there. Even if they did, it's not hard to change.
      I am all about performance, I will not have adware and virus protection software scanning every file written to my HD, every word doc I open, email I send, or page i visit; that's ridiculous; not to mention with all those things of, the services are still there for some reason.
      I agree that most AV software (esp Symantec and McAffe) is way too bloated. Still, with the autoprotect stuff off, there shouldn't be anything resident... I don't know for sure because I'm not running any anti-virus software anyways. Or a local firewall. My NAT router blocks all unsolicited incoming traffic; running my browsers as a lesser user and knowing what I am doing protectects me from local attacks.
      I have had zero viruses, worms, malware, spyware, etc... in the ten some years I've been using computers. Yes, this includes my Windows computers. It's possible.
  • good malware (Score:3, Informative)

    by mcguyver ( 589810 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:14PM (#9122532) Homepage
    I received this link earlier today as spam... It took all the touble out of trying to find free porn on the net - thanks browser hijackers, whoever you are!

    evil link to hijack your browser and force fee you porn [] - windows users click link at your own risk
  • by lorcha ( 464930 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:19PM (#9122566)
    Some of the images were found in unallocated file space, and would have to have been placed there deliberately since cached images from browsing sessions wouldn't have been stored in unallocated space.
    Shame on you, Wired. From earlier in the article:
    Jack originally believed that the images found on his computer were from a previous owner -- he'd bought the machine on an eBay auction.

    Ok, here's what prolly happened:

    1. Dude with his drive in two partitions downloads a bunch of pr0n and stores it on /dev/hda2 (or Windoze equivalent)
    2. Porn-viewing dude decides to sell his computer on eBay.
    3. Realizes that he can't very well sell it to someone when it's got child pr0n on it or he'll be goin' to jail
    4. Nukes /dev/hda2 partition and thinks "ok, it's gone now. I'm in the clear".
    5. Sells it to "Jack"
    6. Jack gets his computer analyzed by the cops.
    7. Jack gets fucked by the system.
    Can I be a reporter now?
  • by maxmg ( 555112 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:22PM (#9122592)
    Out of interest, when I rebuild my home server recently, I installed a fresh Windows XP (with SP1(!)), but nothing else. Then pointed my browser at (that site would probably deserve a good whacking) and sat back and watched the show.
    Within five minutes, there was porn everywhere. The browser homepage (which also downloaded new tasty bits of spyware whenever the browser was launched), the favorites (it would take a determined smut-lover months to accumulate a list of porn sites that long!), the browser history, lots of links on the desktop, porn quick-bars, search bars, the start menu, and every other piece of mal-, spy-, ad- and crapware under the sun.

    The scary thing is, I did not click on any buttons, links or otherwise. The website simply exploited IE flaws to install all this crap.
    I then ran ad-aware [] and spybot search and destroy [] and the amount of shit that had been installed in about five minutes was absolutely staggering! After that, I continued using the machine for a few minutes, but could not shake the feeling that there was still a fair amount of *ware left on the box. I had to repartition, reformat and take a shower to feel clean again.

    So it would be all too easy for Joe User, who does not quite grasp the concept of IT security in general and the necessity to upgrade in particular, to stumble upon a site like that and catch all that junk. After witnessing this, I will certainly be migrating my parents and other relatives to Linux/Mozilla as soon as I can.

    I have now prepared an old laptop that I can restore quickly by re-ghosting with a virgin XP install. Every time I need to impress the importance of updating, configuring your system properly and generally staying away from MS software, I take the laptop along, open abovementioned site and ask people to clean up the machine. Normally they give up in disgust after firing up IE for the first time. Might be an idea to do that in court, too.

  • I had something like this happen to me, but fortunately I wasn't arrested or fired: One day a while back I decided to clean up my Windoze computer a bit and logged into the default account, which I hadn't logged into in a long, long time -- typically I log into my own account. There were a few shortcuts on the desktop that I hadn't remembered puting there, so I double clicked on one of them and it took me to a kiddie porn site. I was not amused. The other shortcuts were also to kiddie porn sites.

    I called up my ex-girlfriend, since she was the only other person who had ever used this computer, and I started ranting at her about how could she have been so cruel as to play that kind of practical joke on me. She clearly had no idea, however, what I was talking about.

    So, it must have been some sort of virus, worm, trojan horse, or web-based vandalism that put those links there. Thank goodness I found them before letting a guest use the default account!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:24PM (#9122607)
    Tuesday, 21st June 2004

    Today, 23-old Welsh Web designer, Nomis Rollav, of Llandudno, North Wales confessed today for making the 'sextoy' computer virus and releasing it to the net. As one may have heared, 'sextoy' virus installs illegal pornograph and banned music content onto people's hard drives before spreading. The virus itself is quite clever, it tries to simulate a frustrated adult male anywhere between 3 and 5AM, it starts at one of 10 common sex portals and slowly browses, in a random sort of manner to other portals. It downloads to the unsuspecting user's computer videos of child pornography and even sodomy.

    Where most viruses do minimal damage, or at the very most wipe someone's hard drive; the 'sextoy' virus is far worse. It has lead to a string of divorces across the bible belt of the United States. It has also led to widespread firing of employees in several fortune 500 corporations which have a zero tollerance for pornography. At the peak of the virus's life, it had prompted the jailing of innocent US victims by John Ashcroft and the US Justice Department.

    When asked if he was repentant, Nomis replied: "Well, I'd do two things differently if I had a chance. First, I'd find some way to piggy back on other people's habits, for example, if they go to Fredricks or Victoria Secret regularly, I'd make sure to mix the vits to child porn sites with visits to their normal viewing habits. Second, I'd build an IM client support so that the virus can attempt to corner policemen disguized as underage females. Third, I'd make the virus a bit more self limiting; this one was far too successful."

    Legal scholors across the globe are wondering how to make viewing illegal pornography enforcable. The recent push-back on legislation happened when US Senator Orrin Hatch's own computer became infected causing him to be picked up, accidently by the "p0rn police". The very next day Senator Hatch introduced legislation making it a terrorist act, and punshable by death, to make viruses which spread pornography. The legislation also makes those with assets of more than one million dollars immune to the anti-porn laws. Senator Hatch was not available for comment.
  • A total farse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:24PM (#9122608) Journal
    Its pretty stupid that we've got to the stage where simple web scripting can have so much control over your browser/computer. It seems that javascript for example was designed with no regard to security, or more likely badly implemented by the likes of Microsoft. The plain and simple fact is your browser should stop bad scripts and/or ask you if you want to allow something, its certainly not rocket science to implement that people come on - were talking "if script wants to open/close a window or go somewhere, ask user first" thats about 3 lines of code that should have been implemented back in IE 3, why wasn't it?

    To a certain extent its now appearing, IE will tell you "This website wants to close a window, do you want to allow it?" too little too late. Most other browsers have built-in pop-up blocking but even they took their time. Its basic security-101 that if you're dealing with a script that can be run by anyone you restrict what it can do. Same thing goes for Microsoft Outlook VB scripting. If people implementing these things weren't idiots we would have actually gone through the 90's with out annoying pop-ups and Outlook worms!!!! can you believe that??!? Microsoft is pretty much single-handedly responsible for opening these holes and for nearly a decade no-one has pointed fingers!!! Can i even add any more exclamation points or question marks?!?!?!?! Ok so its not just MS but mostly it is, given their browser share.

    Other than web scripting/activeX etc. etc. which could be easily secured, there's real OS level holes, and tricking users into downloading and running things. Again who do we all need to point at? I don't expect every computer user to know that downloading random programs can be bad, but at the very least warn them! or at least run that program with limited permissions automatically unless they override it!

    I just cant understand why all this is allowed to happen? someone please explain?
    • Re:A total farse (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mabu ( 178417 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @09:05PM (#9122936)
      One big problem is that Microsoft's custom security options are either vague or misleading. If you disable ActiveX, you can't run Windows Update, so you're left with leaving vulnerable systems enabled in places where you would prefer not. MS has a number of different names for different enabled/disabled features: active scripting, activeX, MicrosoftVM, data sources across domains... most people have no idea what this means. They can't merely say "disable Javascript", they have to bundle divergent services into misnamed categories making it difficult to figure out how to secure your browser or even what you're doing.

      Internet Explorer's deliberately obtuse configuration interface is mostly responsible for this mess. Microsoft could add more options described in a more specific manner so users could make informed decisions over what features they want to enable/disable. Microsoft has apparently deliberately chosen to obfusicate their security options, specifically to avoid any user's finding easy ways to enable the more-secure non-Microsoft technology over the less-secure Microsoft "features."
    • Re:A total farse (Score:5, Informative)

      by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @10:27PM (#9123508) Homepage Journal
      It seems that javascript for example was designed with no regard to security, or more likely badly implemented by the likes of Microsoft. [ ... ]

      Alas, no. The blame for JavaScript may be laid firmly at the feet of Netscape, who invented it in part as a "respose" to Sun's Java. Any moron with even a passing familiarity with MSWord macro viruses would have realized that including and automatically executing code within what is fundamentally a document was a monumentally stupid idea. But no, they did it, anyway.

      Microsoft doesn't get off scot-free, however. They uncritically re-implemented this braindamage and -- as first-hand observers of the problems caused by MSWord macro viruses -- had even less excuse for proliferating this.


  • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:32PM (#9122668) Journal
    Some of the images were found in unallocated file space, and would have to have been placed there deliberately since cached images from browsing sessions wouldn't have been stored in unallocated space.

    When I hear "unallocated space", I think of, i.e., unformatted filesystems, unpartitioned hard drives, etc... Maybe they're referring to "deleted" files? A file would end up there from the cache if he clicked on the "empty cache" button fer chrissakes.

    So, shall we vote whether to consider this poor shmuck the first casualty in Ashcroft's "War on pr0n?"
  • by phr1 ( 211689 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @08:35PM (#9122689)
    This bit me in the Plextor 12x burner thread:

    No I'm not going to link it; you can paste it yourself. WARNING, it goes to a browser hijacker that puts up a cascade of variety shock pictures. Not work safe. It completely wedged Mozilla 1.6 when I clicked on it. I didn't try in 1.7. Blecccch. If you look at it, don't say I didn't warn you. Note that if you turn off Javascript, you just see a blank page.

    The JS in it also tries to capture the text from your clipboard and send it to the remote server, though I hope Mozilla isn't stupid enough to let THAT operation work.

  • by digitalgimpus ( 468277 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @09:01PM (#9122885) Homepage
    It says in the article:

    "Eventually, thank God, IT found some program on there that they said could have caused the problem. But for eight days I was sure I'd be fired, and I was terrified. I have a family to support. Jobs aren't easy to come by these days."

    But they apparantly still filed a police report.

    Quite possible a false police report? Either way, it wouldn't be a bad idea for the DA to open up a little investigation into the company's IT department to see if they were withholding anything, or intentionally overlooked things.

    Something doesn't smell right about this case. I've got a gut instinct that company of his found an opportunity to make an example of him for the infamous "no personal use" policy, and decided to exploit him... and it just got out of hand.

  • by Compulawyer ( 318018 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @09:14PM (#9123005)
    AND IF he is telling the truth about not actually surfing to child porn sites, then he is a victim. I have a hard time believing that malware caused his browser to go to kiddie pr0n sites. I have a slightly easier time believing that the kiddie pr0n images were on the drive when he boght the machine from eBay. But what I find notable is the lack of any detail regarding what investigative steps his defense lawyer took to see if he was truly responsible.

    Until lawyers get technically savvy, laws affecting technology will be terrible.

  • by Dever ( 564514 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @09:25PM (#9123091) Journal
    having been subjected to a public defense attorney before (and no, not for kiddie porn) i can attest that it is in their best interests (and the prosecutor, don't think there isn't some unspoken knowledge of how this works between them) to instill fear into a defendent and recommend they take a plea bargain before even ASKING te defendant what really happened.

    a public attorney is awarded a wage, that is added to the fines of the convicted person. it isn't worth their time to go to trial and waste a bunch of money when they can just get the defendant to agree to a plea and at that point count on a thousand (or more) or so bucks payoff RE that case all for just visiting jail a few times and showing up in court once or twice.

    from all the people i spoke to (yes, spoke to *in* jail who were serving time) it's common to sit down, and have them tell you you're looking at 3-4 years in prison (this of course varies) and recommend you just take a plea, all without even fucking asking about your side of the story.

    yes, i'm bitter about it, but even moreso i'm angry for all the people whose lives get caught in the justive systems interminable process of rapid conviction commerce.

    i can give you one rule, and it of course might be more obvious to some than others (like a frightened 18 year old in jail, or anyone else really) is that ALWAYS get a private defense attorney, NEVER trust your life with a public defender.

  • by jfdawes ( 254678 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @09:59PM (#9123321)
    "Committing a felony is very easy; it just takes one click."

    The guy should sue Amazon, they have the patent on that
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Tuesday May 11, 2004 @10:06PM (#9123370) Homepage Journal
    There were training rooms set up with several computers around the perimiter. One day during a training session, while no one was seated at it, out of apparently nowhere a popup ad featuring big bouncing naked breasts came up.

    Since no one was using the machine at the time, it was obvious that it had been hijacked. If some poor sould had been sitting there at the time, they would have either been fired on the spot or placed on a "final warning" for it.

  • by cpu_fusion ( 705735 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @12:31AM (#9124016)
    Given the known fact that many (MANY) exploits have existed for browsers such as IE, and many still exist as zero day exploits, one has to wonder how ANY CONVICTION can occur based on the activities of a computer system without a confession, (coerced or otherwise.)

    Once malware is running on your system, it chooses what to do -- or rather, it's author chooses to do. Sure there are possible defenses to malware, but none of them are foolproof. The vast majority of Internet users are spread eagle on the information superhiway, relying on Bill Gates to guard their anus.

    In fact, there is no way to prove that any activity originating from a computer system was produced by the user at that computer system short of either filming them doing it (and you gotta love digital film folks!) or hooking up a device to their brain. (Wait a few years for that.)

    Not convinced? A trojan can install itself without detection, do whatever the hell it pleases, and cover its tracks completely. All it needs are the right holes, and if you don't believe the holes are there to be found then you obviously don't read the news. Just imagine if that teenager from Germany caught this last week had decided his worm should mail death threats to public officials, or download illegal pictures, before shredding itself completely off the hard drive after propagating. The malware writers have, on the whole, been very very kind and very very stupid so far people; well, at least the trojans/worms/viruses/spyware we know about.

    Even going beyond this, there's always the question of physical security on a machine. If someone can access a computer physically, chances are they can plant whatever they want to on it, AND YOU WONT BE ABLE TO DISTINGUISH IT FROM NON-PLANTED EVIDENCE. That, my friends, sucks.

    The digital world is a scarey scarey place. Gone are the physical evidence trails. And don't think prosecuters dislike this new domain; it makes their job easier, not harder. Prosecuters don't have to consider the very real possibility that the actions of a computer system were hijacked. They only have to MAKE THINGS TERRIFYING ENOUGH for you to force you into the only rational decision; to take the deal, to sell out the truth and your rights to a jury trial because the cost of trying to convince someone on a jury that a completely untraceable event is possible in this digital world, something tantamount to "magic" in the real world happened. Good luck!

    Cheers and remember, there's really no way you can prove I posted this

  • In order to make any sense of this, we need to understand a bit about psychology. Men today are basically -- and with good reason -- shit-scared of being accused of any sexual offence, but especially paedophilia. You only have to look at the news reports on TV and in the papers.

    So we live in denial. We try to pretend there is no such thing. But as soon as a real, live person is discovered who is suspected of being a paedophile, then a defensive mechanism which dates back to cave-man times kicks in. We are so desperate not to be that suspect, because we are doubly afraid -- revulsion at the thought that we might be capable of doing that, plus fear of the punishment we are conditioned to expect. All the time, we are exposed through the media to a gamut of images such as Britney Spears dancing erotically in clothing reminiscent of school uniform. And children -- especially girls {Western society has pretty much abandoned boys altogether, but that's another story} -- are adopting what would traditionally have been seen as the trappings of adulthood at a much younger age. These conditions are an ideal breeding ground for irrational behaviour.

    People attack suspected paedophiles because they don't want to be suspected of paedophilia themselves; and if you are in a vigilante mob, baying for blood with the rest of them, then obviously nobody else in that mob thinks you would make a good next victim.
  • Mac OS X (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xirtam_work ( 560625 ) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @06:00AM (#9124981)
    I switched from Windows to an iMac with OS X last year. I have no problems with spyware, viruses, malware, whatever at home.

    At work it is still a nightmare to deal with all the PC's I have to maintain - especailly the home PC that belongs to my boss. His kids are constantly downloading shit and installing it - sometimes without knowing.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann