The recent FTC complaint focused on Enternetmedia’s use of blogs to propagate spyware.
Spyware buster Roger Karlsson emailed me an absolute treasure yesterday, a great video of something else — Enternetmedia’s SearchMiracle being installed with absolutely no notice and consent and not even an add/remove entry (you have to remove it through the toolbar itself or at Searchmiracle’s website). In his video, he downloads a game called Balloon Pop from Lookoutsoft.net (http://www.lookoutsoft(dot)net/freewebgames/baloonpop(dot)html) and subsequently got a stealth-install of SearchMiracle.
You can see his video here.
So last night and today, I tested it and sure enough, Roger is right. This is nasty.
Here’s what my Add/Remove programs looked like before:
I go to install this stupid Balloon Pop game and get absolutely no EULA. Nothing. Now, we’re jaded, but this is usually the practice of CoolWebSearch gang types, not this type of operation.
Then, look at my Add/Remove after:
Instant mess. Not only did I get Search Miracle, but I also got 180 Search Assistant and Internet Optimizer — all without any notice, disclosure, consent, anything. Just “poof”. The 180 Search Assistant didn’t even give me that new little “S3” dialog that they’re using now (which tells you that 180 is being installed). This shows that Lookoutsoft is using an older version of 180 Search Assistant.
And of course, along the way I get this popup from Adult Friend Finder. What if a kid had installed this game?
Now, notice there is no add/remove for this install of SearchMiracle/Elite Toolbar. You have to either go to searchmiracle.com and use their uninstaller, or do it through the toolbar:
Here’s what LookoutSoft.net says in their Contact Us section:
*Please note that all software produced by Visaid Development is ad supported. We appologize [sic] for any inconviences [sic] this may cause you. This is necessary to insure that everything produced by Visaid Development, Inc. may remain free and full version. All ad bundles are created by third party affilliates [sic] and verfied [sic] for your safety by Visaid Development, Inc. Any ad placements bundled with software produced by Visaid Development, Inc. may simply be removed by going to Start>>Control Panel>>Add/Remove Programs. Visaid Development, Inc. accepts no responsibility for any actions taken by it’s advertisers and included advertisement bundles.
Right. So you bury the fact that you’re stealth installing spyware in a Contact page. And you can’t spell worth a damn. You guys are jackasses.
Checking around the rest of their site, one sees that their main product is Easy Guitar Tabs Maker Pro, which is also ad-supported. However, at least in the case of downloading that product, you get a EULA (actually a number of them, since a lot of crap is installed with this guitar program).
Feel free to send them a happy friendly email — the addresses are on the contact page.
(Thanks Roger, great catch!)