Spyware writers switching to alternative browsers

Discussion in 'Spyware' started by Guest, Mar 3, 2005.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    New Browsers, Same Unwanted Ads


    By Joanna Glasner | Also by this reporter Page 1 of 1

    02:00 AM Mar. 01, 2005 PT

    For internet users seeking to avoid exposure to spyware and intrusive
    ads, the prevailing wisdom among net security experts has long been
    that a good first step is to switch from Microsoft's Internet Explorer
    to an alternate browser.

    But now that millions have taken the advice and changed to browsers
    like Mozilla Firefox, more spyware and adware writers are also making
    the switch.

    As the number of people opting not to use IE grows, makers of
    filtering software say users of leading alternate browsers can expect
    to see more intrusive ads and spyware applications headed their way.

    "There's still a lot more spyware that gets in through the holes in
    Internet Explorer than through the holes in Mozilla, but it's
    changing," said Anthony Arrott, director of threat research for
    InterMute, a maker of software that blocks spyware and pop-up ads.

    As of today, spyware writers have not successfully targeted Firefox
    users on a large scale. However, Arrott says that spyware writers are
    more attracted to Mozilla today simply because it has more users. A
    few years ago, when Internet Explorer dominated the browser arena to a
    greater degree, there wasn't much reason for authors of malicious
    applications to target its rivals. Now that Mozilla has critical mass,
    however, it's become worth their while.

    "The reason there is so much spyware in IE and not on these alternate
    browsers is not because IE has so many more inherent security problems
    but because IE has so many more users," Arrott said. As other browsers
    become more popular, he added, spyware users will go after them too.

    The upshot of spyware writers' newfound attraction to Mozilla, Arrott
    predicts, will be that in the next six months or so computer security
    guides will stop recommending that people switch from IE to halt
    intrusions.

    It's not just spyware that users of alternate browsers are complaining
    about. Much-reviled pop-up and pop-under ads are also making it past
    blocking software, a trend that Matina Fresenius, chairman and CEO of
    ad-blocking software developer Panicware, attributed to the fact that
    most older programs were made with IE in mind.

    "I'm not sure if it's specifically that advertisers are finding ways
    to sneak by ad blockers in alternate browsers. I think it's just that
    most ad blockers don't support the alternate browsers," said
    Fresenius, whose company launched a pop-up blocker last week that is
    designed to work with both IE and alternate browsers like Mozilla,
    Opera and Netscape.

    Mac users are also complaining about a rise in intrusive advertising.
    In the past few months in particular, Mac users have reported a
    dramatically higher incidence of unwanted pop-up and pop-under ads,
    said Ben Wilson, senior editor of the Mac site MacFixIt.

    Typically, Wilson said, Mac users are subjected to fewer unwanted
    pop-up and pop-under ads than PC users. He attributes this tendency to
    security features in Mac OS X's architecture and to its smaller market
    share.

    Still, Wilson said, a handful of ad delivery firms openly boast about
    their ability to subvert traditional blocking systems, and Mac users
    are feeling the effects of some aggressive advertiser tactics.

    One advertiser site, Popuptraffic.com, states on its homepage that
    "due to the proliferation of pop-up blockers, we have altered our
    popup code so that if a blocker is detected, a layer ad will be
    delivered." Other firms, Wilson said, are using a technique in which
    advertisements load in the background when a person is viewing a web
    page, then appear immediately when he or she attempts to visit another
    URL. Others will force another pop-up on the user if the first is
    closed "too quickly."

    For the most part, however, Wilson says Mac users can keep pop-ups and
    pop-unders from becoming a nuisance by installing blocking tools such
    as PithHelmet.

    While pop-ups and pop-unders may seem to be getting more troublesome
    to certain users, broad internet traffic data indicates that their
    numbers are actually declining. According to internet measurement firm
    Nielsen/NetRatings, advertisers are using fewer pop-up and pop-under
    ads, largely because so many people have installed software to block
    them. In January, NetRatings found that advertisers recorded 918
    million impressions of pop-up ads, down from 2.2 billion in the same
    period last year.

    At the same time, other forms of online advertising often criticized
    as intrusive -- screeching animations and floating ads that
    superimpose themselves over a page -- are on the rise.

    FROM: http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,66726,00.html
     
    Guest, Mar 3, 2005
    #1
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  2. Guest

    Trinity Guest

    Other browsers don't use ActiveX which makes them much more secure out
    of the box, and I turn off java and don't install Shockwave Flash. I'l
    stick to FF thx.
     
    Trinity, Mar 3, 2005
    #2
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  3. Guest

    Guest Guest


    Is there some reason that Shockwave Flash can cause problems, other
    than being irritating?
     
    Guest, Mar 3, 2005
    #3
  4. Guest

    Connected Guest

    Maybe not now in the latest version, but it has been exploited in the
    past. I just don't like it as somef ads use Flash, so if I don't have
    Flash installed the ads can't show on my PC.
     
    Connected, Mar 4, 2005
    #4
  5. Guest

    Jan Il Guest

    Thank you! :)

    Jan :)
     
    Jan Il, Mar 4, 2005
    #5
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