The Null Device

The joy of adware

The PCs at a certain hostel in Byron Bay appear to be fuzzy with adware; every few minutes, a program named "Save!" throws up a pop-under ad for some product. Not sure whether they installed it themselves or whether it snuck in with a "funny screensaver" or porn downloader or something.

"Save!", which claims to be associated with some outfit named "WhenU", strenuously disclaims acting as spyware, logging websites, passwords or anything like that. Though, of course, any piece of conspicuous spyware would say that as well. Just in case, I've taken to entering passwords by cutting and pasting words from other pages, deleting bits of them and adding the odd keystroke or two. It is probably theoretically possible to write a piece of spyware that keeps track of pastes, cursor positions, &c. into a password entry box, but in practice it may be quite difficult.

I wonder whether the alleged yuppification of Byron Bay has extended to there being wireless internet anywhere.

There are 2 comments on "The joy of adware":

Posted by: toby http:// Fri Dec 19 01:30:35 2003

On the other hand, logging packet contents and/or the in-memory data of forms wouldn't be too hard. Where there's a will, there's a way.

I'm sure you could find an open wireless network somewhere. There are (at least) two (one from a university that should know better) that my powerbook picks up on my train trip to work.


Posted by: acb Fri Dec 19 01:35:13 2003

My webmail password is HTTPS-encrypted, which would rule out packet logging. The others are my blog-posting and LiveJournal passwords; unless there are spammers harvesting those to systematically post penis-enlargement ads to people's friends' LJ comments, that's not too great a risk. (Though I'll change both when I get back just in case.) Needless to say, I don't log into online banking or anything with a shell from fuzzy, possibly diseased public Windows boxes.