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The Courts Government Privacy Software News

Three Companies Shut Down For Spyware Bundling 95

SenseOfHumor writes "A U.S. Court has shut down three companies for secretly bundling spyware. The assets of Enternet Media Inc. and Conspy & Co. Inc., based in California, and Iwebtunes, based in Ohio, have been frozen pending further court action, the FTC said. The court also ordered all three firms to halt downloads of the software." From the article: "According to a complaint filed in district court in Los Angeles, Enternet and Conspy bundled their malicious software with music files, song lyrics and cellular telephone ring tones offered free on a range of Web sites. The software was also disguised as a security upgrade for Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer Web browser."
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Three Companies Shut Down For Spyware Bundling

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  • by 4r0g ( 467711 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:33PM (#14011709)
    Obvious case there.
    • Did you miss the last story [slashdot.org] or what? It's still on the front page, so if you hurry you can add your 2 cents. :-)
      • No, I didn't miss it. I think by doing that Sony BMG just acknowledged that the claims were true. And they will continue the same business practices as soon as the dust has settled if they're not slapped, hard. Despite distancing themselves from Sony BMG, EMI is still pushing forward with their "2nd generation copy protection" as well. Just keep those lawsuits coming...

        • And they will continue the same business practices as soon as the dust has settled if they're not slapped, hard.

          Getting told off by the President of the United States isn't getting slapped down? No offense, but when the most powerful political figure in the world speaks (save your HHGttG jokes, we've heard them), you had better listen or face the consequences later.

          Just because they got slapped down in a fairly "nice" way, doesn't mean that they aren't going to be smarting for a very long time to come.
    • by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:55PM (#14011892)
      Answer: never. The main difference between Sony BMG and these three companies is that these three companies are/were very small. Once you get enough captital to bribe members of the government with, you basically become untouchable.

      I guess this episode should become a lesson in all MBA classes. If your company is small then keep your head low and do good business. Once the company becomes big enough, _then_ you get to do the nasty things.

      • The bigger you are the nastier you can be. Just don't piss off half the electorate or all your political connections will be for naught.
      • I'm no fan of Sony's actions, but there's another big difference here: Sony at least has the excuse of attempting to do something that is legal, i.e., protect its intellectual property. That doesn't make Sony's rootkit acceptable, but it can at least claim a pure motive. Not so when you're telling grandma that she's getting a security fix just to give her spyware instead.
      • Once you get enough captital to bribe members of the government with, you basically become untouchable.

        Which is why Standard Oil and Carnegie Steel are still the dominant monopolies in their fields.
    • but they've already infected millions. Sony gets no money from me, until they have rectified every one of their infections, and promise never to do it again.

      with the exception of BMG label Arista's Brian Wilson Christmas Album, that doesn't appear to have the rootkit, and I will buy appropriate copies for gifting. Sony bought BMG a few months ago.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        with the exception of BMG label Arista's Brian Wilson Christmas Album, that doesn't appear to have the rootkit, and I will buy appropriate copies for gifting. Sony bought BMG a few months ago.

        I hope your post was intended to be funny.

        Sony has at various points claimed that there was no rootkit, that it could be uninstalled and that there was no spyware and that Apples are not affected. They have also stated that there is anti-copying technology on all of their CDs. You can safely assume that all Sony/BMG
        • nothing that seems to have invaded either the mac or the win-me machine at this juncture, so the older BMG stuff appears to be in play on this disc. mac shows no files other than music files on the disc. there are no EULA pop-ups, and no calls home. I checked on a hard disk I don't care about.

          the local scene is vibrant around the twin cities, but I haven't been lately, so I'm a little out of touch on it. the Cities Sampler should be out, so I can check that, of course. but my list runs from ages 20s to
  • by nizo ( 81281 ) * on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:34PM (#14011721) Homepage Journal
    ...Conspy & Co. Inc....

    Now there is a great name for a company! Could it be any more obvious their products contain spyware????

  • Ring Tones (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I think people downloading obnoxious ringtones got what they deserve...
  • Dear Sony... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:35PM (#14011732) Homepage Journal
    If I had my way, Sony would be held accountable in a similiar manner. While these companies installed spyware, Sony actually installed a backdoor. Sony's actions are a violation of a far greater magnitude.
    • Re:Dear Sony... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by StonedRat ( 837378 )
      Sony have more money though. Money == Power.
    • hey, shutdown sony, that would be a real fun!
    • Re:Dear Sony... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kmahan ( 80459 )
      You seem to be forgetting that Sony has a lot more money to buy off people in the Congress. So they have "friends" like Orrin Hatch to look out for them.
    • Sony's product was a back door? Like I can connect to a PC that listened to a Sony CD and remotely control it? I was not aware that was the case. AFAIK, the tactics Sony used are actually less intrusive than some of the spyware I have tried to remove. What some spyware companies are doing is flat out hacking (intentional spelling).
      • Yes, apparently it is a back door. Also it is harder to remove than pretty much any spyware I've heard of. Check the uninstall procedures that have been posted so far for this. It acts as a safe mode driver.
  • Couldn't they just shift their online resouces and reincorporate offshore otherwise ... it's not like their resouces cant be moved or something.
  • Enternet 300? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by planetoid ( 719535 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:37PM (#14011753)
    Is this the same Enternet company who wrote the simple Enternet 300 DSL connection program for routerless users? I remember my ISP would bundle that program with the DSL modems you got for free when you signed up for broadband (are they called DSL "modems" or something else? lol). I wonder how far back their affiliation in spyware goes... I might have to dig up my old computer and take a look-see :/
    • Re:Enternet 300? (Score:2, Informative)

      Admittedly, the Enternet 300 program was a PPPoE client, which was necessary at a time when PPPoE wasn't natively supported in the OS. As for the "modem" thing, they're actually transceivers.
      • Is it just me or is transceiver a silly name? Literally, "A transmitter and receiver housed together in a single unit and having some circuits in common, often for portable or mobile use." Like, whoop-de-doo. ADSL is still an analog signal, right? So why isn't it called a modem? Er, well, why isn't it technically called a modem? Its function is so similar to that of an ordinary modem that it's stunning; it's connected to a computer on a digital interface, and sends an analog signal over the same pair your P
        • DSL and it's variants are digital, hence the "D" for digital.
          • A DSL modem is as much a "modem" as is the device you use for 56k dialup.
    • Re:Enternet 300? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @06:11PM (#14011993) Homepage
      No, Enternet 300 came from Efficient Networks, and Siemens now owns and supports the Enternet 300 product line.

      If anybody cares, there's still a Enternet 300 support site. [efficient.com]

      • Actually, Enternet 300 came from Network Telesystems (NTS), which was then bought by Efficient Networks, which was then bought by Siemens.
  • 'bout time... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mister White ( 892068 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:38PM (#14011761)
    Now, let's go ahead and shut down GAIN and all these 'websearch' places, and we'll be doing something. I see the auto-installing IE websearch bars and the "internet optimizer" wares to be some of the most vicious of all spyware. It's beyond intrusive, and downright annoying. Who wants to continually "uninstall" all of these?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I see the auto-installing IE websearch bars and the "internet optimizer" wares to be some of the most vicious of all spyware.

      Hey now, let's be fair. One of those programs was kind enough to let me know my computer was broadcasting an IP address. I installed it and now my comp@##@SSN 709 232 129(*&^^uter is secure.

    • by spooky_nerd ( 646914 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @06:53PM (#14012270)
      Hey now, let's not be too hasty. Uninstalling these things is what keeps me busy at work. You might call them malware, but I prefer the term gainfully-employedware.
    • So don't use IE for casual surfing. Use it only for those sites that you absolutely must have for business or whatever, and which absolutely require it. Even *then* you may be at risk, due to attacks on third party ad servers, etc. Remember the Bofra exploits caused by system compromises of Falk AG's ad servers?

      IE still has unpatched exploits against it. I almost always does. This is the normal state of affairs.

  • by mcguyver ( 589810 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:39PM (#14011770) Homepage
    There is work left to be done!
    • It's probably going to be called $sys$180solutions soon, thanks to Sony.

      Then again, it's not surprising that $ dollar signs makes things invisible. Works for hidden shares in Windows, and bribes to Congressmen.
      • The hidden windows shares are still advertised by the server, but the windows client ignores them. Try looking at the shares with samba or looking at the network traffic with a sniffer and you'll see the real share list. Gee, does that qualify as a rookit if they're really there but windows is instructed to no show it?

        Funny thing is that Windows already hides certain file names anyway. Sony or a virus writer could have simply used one of those.

    • Don't forget to add Aurora, Claria, ISearch, and WhenU to this list. These are companies whose "product" I remove daily. As a tech in a white box store I now spend over 80% of my time removing this crap. It would be nice to go back to fixing hardware problems and building new boxes.
  • Does this mean ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DikSeaCup ( 767041 ) on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:51PM (#14011865) Homepage
    I won't have to constantly warn the users I support *not* to click on any pop up that says "Your system is unsecure! Click here to secure your system!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 11, 2005 @05:57PM (#14011912)
    So is it Mr Furley or the Ropers thats responsible for this?
  • $sys$Sony (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kyshtock ( 608605 )
    Well, I doubt that they will shut down Sony... but some nice fines might be in order. And some regulations on the EULAs. And maybe, just maybe, some modifications on the DMCA.

    I wonder what happened... suddenly they started to care about malware...

    • They realized that due to their sorely lax security concerning MUSIC CDs, anyone on a windows machine (like the gov't is going to use terminals? Please, we're talking about BIG WAR SPENDING here) within the Gov't can insert a "DRM-disabled" CD from Sony and compromise national security. That's why they slapped Sony's ass like a cheap $20 whore.
  • Microsoft! My firewall always lights up every time I launch their products. That is ok, I can block that. But can the OS provider do the same thing SONY has been doing? Personally I don't know.

    Help the sig the count will be updated weekly.
  • Spyware (Score:1, Redundant)

    by certel ( 849946 )
    It's about time some of these companies are shut down. There is no real value in spyware!
  • Sadly, these guys will just probably just re-incorporate and continue this nasty business. Reincorporation is simple and can be done quickly. They may even do it internationally to make legal efforts against them costly and time consuming. By the time they are shut down again, they will have run with the money. Sad but quite likely.
  • When will Sony be held reponsible for installing rootkits on private coputers?
    And will Sony risk being shutdown like Enternet media Inc. or the others?

      I predict Sony's status as one of the larger corporations around will allow them to buy themselves out of trouble.
  • And if so, why the hell isn't the Corporate Death Penalty being applied against some of the nation's biggest offenders? There are any number of corporations that have caused hellish environmental destruction, have screwed bajillions of dollars out of consumers, have outright lied about their products, have been caught red-handed cheating the government out of billions, etcetera. As far as I know, most of those companies are allowed to continue to exist... yet surely they are more harmful to society than t
  • No doubt the majority of /.ers would like to see the CEOs of these companies fined and jailed, but the responsibilty in other matters such as accounting fraud can go down the ladder.

    This is not a troll, at least not intentionally, but at what point does malicious programming become a civil or criminial offense for those who know most intimately what the software does and the issues it involves? Intention is a significant part of legal matters, and while I am entirely against "programming malpractice" law

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal