Author: Eva Gibson
Several user pages on the social networking site MySpace this week were found to be hosting video clips containing adware, according to a report released by Websense(R) Security LabsTM. The videos, which contained adult content, were embedded with an installer for Zango Cash Toolbar. Zango, also known as 180Solutions, is a known manufacturer of adware and is listed as a “Potentially Unwanted Product” by McAfee.
When users click on the video, which resembles videos posted on multimedia site You Tube, the users are directed to a site called “Yootube.info,” which is hosted out of Amsterdam. According to the Websense(R) report, the site requires the user to agree to an end-user license in order to view the entire video. Acceptance of the agreement terms triggers the download and installation of setup.exe from Zango Cash via a Windows Media Player dialogue box.
Zango receives payment from the operators of the installation website based on the number of successful toolbar installations. Though the adware in question is a low grade threat that primarily opens popups, it is not a program most users want on their machines.
Ironically, Zango was recently involved in a dispute with the Federal Trade Commission, which accused Zango with using “unfair and deceptive methods to download adware and obstruct consumers from removing it, in violation of federal law.”
Zango paid a $3 million fine for distributing adware and was barred from installing its program on any computer without obtaining the user’s express consent. User approval of the end-user license agreement in this particular case may qualify as consent, though there is no question the methods of obtaining consent are somewhat dicey.
Zango resembles most low-grade adware in the sense that it can be prevented and removed by updated antivirus software. Installing a popup blocker and a firewall is an important first step. Popup blockers will prevent popup ads from appearing on the screen, and a firewall, which filters information as it arrives from the internet, will detect and block files that have the potential to damage a user’s computer.
Another way a user can prevent the installation of Zango or other similar adware is to read end-user license agreements thoroughly before agreeing to them. People often assume that an agreement looks out for their best interests and therefore don’t bother to examine the text closely.
Likewise, users trying to avoid adware should avoid sites and downloads known to be notorious for carrying adware; those that contain adult content, free offers, and game downloads, to name a few.
The most important aspect of internet security is education. Users should maintain an awareness of internet-based scams and exploits and be prepared to meet them head-on. Installing and running updated antivirus software should only be part of a user’s plan of defense – proper and safe online behavior will go a long way toward keeping a computer system clean and free of harmful malware.
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Article written by Eva Gibson © 2006 http://home.stopsign.com