Just How Bad Is Adware?

from the painfully-bad dept

When a tech-savvy reporter at News.com wanted to find out just how bad adware/spyware had become he ran a little experiment. He downloaded a program that claimed to get rid of spyware, but which was known to actually install some spyware/adware, and then watched the results. Basically, it destroyed his computing environment – polluting every last aspect of it with spyware/adware. He then tried to clean it up using all the real tools (Ad-Aware, Spybot Search & Destroy) that people recommend and then started going in and messing with his Windows registry by hand – all of which did nothing to stop the pain. Each time he thought everything was cleaned up, the dreaded applications would simply reinstall themselves. Then, to make matters worse, the spyware started looking outbound, and his computer started flinging viruses across the corporate network, which led to the IT staff getting involved and dragging away his computer to be reimaged. As he points out, he’s probably more technically savvy that your average user, so you can only imagine just how bad it’s gotten for many people. While many of these firms claim that what they’re doing is just legitimate advertising, one read through this article makes it clear that they’re just as bad, if not worse, than ordinary virus writers and spammers.

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Comments on “Just How Bad Is Adware?”

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Jonathan Pugh says:

spyware and adware are the main problems for older

I fix and consult people on their computers in their homes, and most of the serious problems I have encountered in the last few years on mostly windows 98 PCs are from spyware. Most spyware brings any win98 computer to its knees when on a dialup acount, and on some without enough CPU or memory, crashes them straight into the ground. I have seen brand new computers (p4s, 2+ Ghz) act like 486s because they have DateTime, ClockSync, weatherbug , and god knows what else running on them.
I don’t think anyone really knows the extent that this software has spread itself. I’d say about 85% of all computer users don’t even know about spyware, and say “Yes, Install” to every popup window they get, They click on every AdBanner that looks like a dialog box, and are turning their computers into spyware museums.

Trent Paulk says:

Re: spyware and adware are the main problems for o

Can you help? I have clocksync, whenUsearch and something else called Purity Scan that I can’t get rid of. I have downloaded, installed and run ad-aware and it appears to pull off the whenUsearch files, but the stupid thing keeps coming back. Can you help?

Kris says:

Re: Re: spyware and adware are the main problems for o

You will have to edit the registry. Click Start / Run, and type regedit in the box and hit enter.

Then look for the following lines of text, and delete only these two lines:


This will totally remove it from the machine.

jay hoffman says:

Re: WeatherBug is NOT spyware

Dear Jonathan and board readers:
While I agree that having too many programs can certainly slow down your computer’s speed, I did want to make clear that WeatherBug is NOT spyware. In fact, we are passionately committed to fighting the spread of these technologies because they damage the environment in which we do business.

Our formal spyware policy can be found at: http://www.weatherbug.com/notspyware where you can also find free downloads to what we believe are some of the most effective anti-spyware detection programs, as part of our commitment to end spyware.

For the record, spyware tracks websurfing activity and sometimes reads what is on the user?s hard drive. WeatherBug is not capable of tracking your overall web use or deciphering anything on your hard drive, nor can it determine what you were doing before you opened your WeatherBug program or after you closed it. Any software program that is implying or reporting that WeatherBug is ‘spyware’ or a ?data-miner? is COMPLETELY incorrect. In fact, no major company lists us as spyware: Not spybot, adaware, spykiller, pest patrol, webwasher, spysweeper or dozens of others….because we are not.

WeatherBug and its parent company, AWS, own and operate the world?s largest weather network and we are zealously committed to being the best, most reliable source of live, local weather information for millions of consumers, thousands of schools, dozens of major businesses, and over 100 television stations.

We have a partnership with the National Weather Service to share weather information in times of emergency through the Homeland Security WeatherBug Network.

Lastly, in regards to resources- I’ve listed below the WeatherBug Refresh rates:
Foreground (when your WeatherBug display is fully opened on your screen):
In the first minute: It updates weather data every 30 seconds.
Ad rotates only if a mouse or a key is pressed.
Background (when your WeatherBug display is minimized to be next to the time in the bottom right hand of your computer screen):
Makes weather data update every 1 hour.
For both background and foreground, WeatherBug makes alert information requests every 5 minutes with total data size(in/out) 250B, and makes forecast information requests every 2 hours, with data size 250B.
Each weather data request (in/out): 375B.
Each ad banner may consume 10KB.

The bandwidth consumption is:
Foreground first 1 minute: 1.93kb/sec
Foreground after 1 minute or Background: 0.01kb/sec.
All the background and branding images are cached. If the user clicks on a Tab, it will load tiny Web pages and ads may rotate, this may increase the bandwidth in the short term, but after that it will use the same bandwidth as described above.
Since most of the users bring WeatherBug to the foreground for only a short time, it should not cause any bandwidth issues with the network.

Thanks for allowing me to correct some of the information here. As always, feel free to contact us thru our FAQ page- http://www.weatherbug.com/help or you can contact me directly at jay@weatherbug.com

THANKS! Jay Hoffman, manager, customer support team, WeatherBug

kelly says:

Re: Re: WeatherBug is NOT spyware

boy’s i tell you what it makes me sick, that we all have to worrie about adware spyware viruses trojens worms and all the other crap, makes you not even want a computer anymore. sure wish they would have seen that back in the day when these pc’s were geting off the ground. of course we all have to worrie about these things daylie. so i guess we should have the best and hope they are what they say they are things like norton micorsoft anti spyware ect ect…

Demonpen says:

Just How Bad Is Adware?

Adware is bad- its that mid-dinner phone call you signed up the Do-Not-Call List for, without the list. It turns your computer into the Yellow Pages of everything you never want to buy, let alone even hear about.
There is a battle going on for control of what is in your computer, and if you don’t like what you see, you better start fighting to regain your cyberspace. You HAVE to have the programs- antispyware, antivirus, antiadware… and they are mostly free if you’d care to bother to download them… Then you need what every soldier needs: discipline. If you help spread emails with the subject beginning Fw: Fw: etc and it takes a dozen clicks on the link to reach the nonsense, then you are part of the problem.
You find adware by never browsing aimlessly- have goals for your cyberspace. It is the weak-minded that are drawn to the floating flash-ads: exploring is not the same as mindless drifting.
Freedom from advertisment harrassment is in mental toughness, not any program. The internet doesn’t have to degenerate into television. Thankfully, here you have a choice. That is power!

AMetamorphosis says:

Re: Just How Bad Is Adware?


Well said !

I truly despise all of that crap software ( Gator, Alexis, etc … ) as do you, but the difference is I DO expect unscrupulous businesses to try to pollute my computer with crap.
Therefore, I too am proactive in making sure my systems are clean by using the proper software and staying off of questionable sites & deleting questionable email.

Why is it that people think cyberspace is ANY different then the REAL WORLD ? Most reasonably intelligent people wouldn’t walk down a dark deserted alley @ 3:00 am alone but think its perfectly acceptable to cruise parts of the web and accept questionable software.

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