Is Yahoo Employing Dirty Tricks In The Search Wars?

from the bait-and-switch dept

As the search engine wars have heated up, the browser's search box has become some valuable real estate. Last spring, Google threatened Microsoft with anti-trust complaints due to Microsoft's making its own search engine the default of IE7's search box. And of course, Google has sewn up deals with Firefox and Opera to be the default on those browsers. The battle over the search boxes appears to have hit a low, as there are claims that Yahoo is surreptitiously changing the default search engine to its own, in IE7, when users download an update to their Yahoo IM software. According to the people making the claim, Yahoo lets users check an "auto update" box, which then makes several changes to a user's defaults. It's not clear yet whether this was an isolated incident, or whether Yahoo has some sort of legitimate explanation, but if it has no defense, then it's a pretty bad and invasive tactic for a company of its stature to be using.
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  1. identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 12 Jan 2007 @ 1:33pm

    There's a deeper problem here

    And that is that people are still using IE, despite the fact
    that just about every credible (that is: not funded by Microsoft)
    security researcher out there has spent the last several years
    shouting "DO NOT USE IE" from the rooftop.

    IE is not a web browser any more than Outlook is a mail client.
    Both are malware download-and-installation engines that seem
    to accidentally have had a few add-ons of marginal use thrown
    in to get people to run them. Just perusing the archives of
    bugtraq or full-disclosure or others lists reveals an ongoing
    parade of security holes in them -- many of which are (a) remotely
    exploitable and (b) pathways to total system compromise.

    Yes, other browsers and other mail clients have their issues,
    but none of them come even remotely close to having a record
    like THIS. It's hideous. (And how appalling is it that the
    richest, most powerful software company on the planet can't
    even write a friggin' *mail client* that's safe to use? Sheesh.)

    [ This is why, by the way, I tell people that there is -- to a very
    good first approximation -- no such thing as an "email virus".
    There are (nearly) only "Outlook viruses", because other mail
    clients are usually not insane enough to repurpose message
    content as executable code. ]

    I strongly discourage friends/clients/colleagues from using any
    M$ products, but I tell them that if they're stuck doing so, then
    the single best thing that they can do to protect themselves --
    before worrying about things like firewalls and AV software --
    is to dump IE and Outlook. Those two steps remove two of
    the primary infection vectors, at which point it's actually worth
    putting effort into other measures.

    So...if someone does some nasty via IE, nobody should be in the
    least bit surprised. It's not remarkable: it's normal.

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