The Death SPYral – Yahoo/Google/Microsoft

The entire spyware issue continues to escalate. Going from bad to worse. Unlike viruses, spyware is becoming about making money, and we are seeing that some of the largest and most trusted names on the internet are doing business with spyware companies. That’s right, names like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are profiting by spreading and endorsing spyware. Let’s take a step back. PC Pitstop research has found more and more software being installed on user’s computer without their knowledge. But the problem doesn’t end there! Once the user realizes that some unknown software program is potentially impacting their PC’s performance and reliability, what do most people do? They research their problem using a search engine such as Yahoo or Google.

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Yahoo – On the Dark Side

There was a time that Darth Vader was one with the force, but alas, he went to the dark side. And there was a time that Yahoo was the brightest star in the Internet constellation. My browser favorites are chock full of Yahoo sites, including Yahoo Maps and Yahoo Yellow Pages. My home page is My Yahoo, and I save all of my contacts in the Yahoo address book so I can access them from both my PC and my cell phone. There may be better solutions out there, but in almost all cases Yahoo was the first. Continue Reading

Yahoo and Claria

When Yahoo acquired Overture in September 2003, it may have bought itself a load of trouble.

Prior to the Yahoo acquisition, Overture had cut a deal with Gator (which has since changed its name to Claria Corporation) to display Overture pay-per-click advertising to users of the Gator Advertising Information Network (GAIN). As we’ve noted in earlier investigations, this deal took many Overture customers by surprise. When we contacted some Overture advertisers in September 2003, several were unaware that their ads were now being shown to Gator users and one indicated to us that they had discontinued their Overture advertising as a result.

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Our Gator Experiences

What is it like to be a Gator user? We get plenty of reports in our forums, but we decided to get first-hand information by installing GAIN software on our own systems. We also wanted to find out if there are any good things about GAIN ads–do they have the potential to help users find great deals on products and services? The results weren’t pretty. Rob’s system became very unstable almost immediately. Dave didn’t have system instability, but received many GAIN ads that were anything but targeted.

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How Did I Get Gator?

Our survey found that an astounding 74 percent of Gator users did not know that a Gator or GAIN application had been installed on their system, and an additional 15 percent had not read Gator’s license agreement. Compare those results to Gator’s assertion that users are “inviting” Gator onto their PC’s. We decided to take a look at several ways in which Gator gets “invited” onto a PC, and whether the process may be confusing users into making an uninformed choice.

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Claria Goes Public

Claria Corporation (formerly Gator Corporation) has filed an S-1 statement, the first step in the United States for an initial public offering (IPO) of stock. The S-1 is a very useful document because it requires the company to be very clear and honest about its business prospects. Potential investors use the S-1 to determine whether to buy stock, and to determine a fair price for that stock.

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Gator Alternatives

Are you using a Gator or GAIN-supported application and would like to keep its functionality but dump the popup ads, excessive memory use, and data collection? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve researched a collection of free or low-cost programs that are superior to Gator’s. For each Gator application below, you’ll see our picks for programs that offer similar functionality.

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Overture and Gator

Several companies that have contacted PC Pitstop are puzzled how they could be associated with Gator when they honestly don’t believe their company does business with Gator Corporation. Our first thought was that there was simply someone else in the organization responsible for advertising through the Gator Advertising Information Network (GAIN), or perhaps that a third-party ad agency they hired was responsible for placing Gator advertising. (For example, adware has caused concern for companies such as Toyota.) However, we have found another way that many companies may unwittingly be advertising on Gator through its partnership with Overture and the Search Scout feature.

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The Evils of Unwanted Software

There is a war going on out there. As you are reading this, the forces of good and evil are at work battling to control your computer. This is not a joke nor an exaggeration. It is happening every day, and at times, I think the bad guys are winning. I’m talking about unwanted software. Software that installs itself largely without the user’s knowledge. The makers of these softwares are going to great lengths to gain control of your PC to further their own causes. Following are three different and distinct examples:

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Anti Spyware Blues

If you’ve seen our previous coverage of spyware, you already know how untrustworthy the purveyors of this nefarious software can be — and how much of a danger malicious programs can pose to your PC. But waking up to the threats and resolving to protect yourself against them isn’t enough. You still have to keep your guard up, because even when it comes to anti-spyware software, there are companies that will try to take advantage of you. All over the Web you can find phony and ineffective anti-spyware products, suspect anti-spyware review sites, and misleading advertisements — including ads for suspect products that show up on sites you might otherwise trust. Continue Reading