A SERIOUS New Spyware Threat ...
Excerpt from Steve Gibson's latest newletter
NetZip's "Download Demon" was purchased by Real Networks and
renamed "Real Download". then Netscape/AOL licensed it from
Real and called it "Netscape Smart Download."
By watching the "packet traffic" flowing in and out of one of
my machines while downloading a file through the Internet, I
verified the rumors which you may have heard regarding these
programs: All of these programs immediately tag your computer
with a unique ID, after which EVERY SINGLE FILE you download
from ANYWHERE on the Internet (even places that might not be
anyone else's business) is immediately reported back to the
program's source where it is logged and recorded along with
your machine's unique ID. They also have the opportunity to
capture and record your machine's unique Internet IP address.
This information is then compiled and used to create
a detailed "profile" about who you are based upon the
web sites you visit and the files you have downloaded.
Perhaps you don't mind being watched and tracked as you move
around the Internet ... and then having every file you download
logged and cataloged and used to assemble "your profile". But
the idea of this seems extremely invasive to me, and unless you
have carefully read the program's license you might not be
aware that this is going on or that "you agreed to it" when you
accepted the terms of the license!
More than 14 Million people are already using the original
NetZip Download Demon. NetZip knows the exact number, since
every copy of their program "phones home" to report on what
their users are doing! And I'm sure people are downloading Real
Network's ReadDownload and Netscape's SmartDownload like crazy.
A Class Action lawsuit was recently filed against Netscape/AOL
because of this privacy invasion, so perhaps the PC industry
will begin to receive the message that this sort of secret
spying and profiling is not okay with the rest of us, even if
it is buried within a lengthy license agreement. You decide.
And, of course, the next release of my own OptOut spyware
detection and removal utility WILL consider these programs to
be dangerous, and warn its users of their presence in their
systems. But I wanted to be sure that you knew RIGHT AWAY what
was going on, and that I had independently confirmed that this
invasive file download tracking really was occurring.
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Thank you for your time. I hope this has been useful to you.