Smokey's Security Weblog

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[UPDATED] Comodo Software Removed from Softpedia due to Adware/Spyware issues with CIS

Kudos to Softpedia! After reading their statement concerning Comodo Software, I can only tell Softpedia from this place: you have my full support. Pre-ticked boxes that will provide the user with crapware (adware/spyware) during the install of software is simply not done. It is sneeky behavior. Even worse, CIS – Comodo Internet Security install third-party software (SafeSurf), irrelevant to the main product’s functionality, without leaving room for option. Very indecent, especially because CIS is security software. This kind of software should protect the user, not to fool them with premeditation.

Softpedia article:

Stefan Fintea, Software News Editor
28th of April 2009

As all our regular users know, programs awarded by Softpedia with the 100% Clean and 100% Free awards have been thoroughly checked by our team of editors and passed several tests. Aside from the fact that all programs on Softpedia are scanned with world-renowned security products, all awarded programs are installed by our team and checked for any spyware or adware components.

We make sure the program doesn’t fall under any of the six cases mentioned on our adware definition page. Please be advised that this definition is our creation and has not been “borrowed” from an online or offline source. It was created by our team of specialists to ensure that it covers all cases that may result in the legitimate dissatisfaction of our users. Therefore, if we find adware in a program it will be listed accordingly, regardless of the license it’s listed under on the producer’s website.If the application has been found free of viruses/spyware and neither the installation process nor runtime experience reveal any unpleasant surprises, the program receives the 100% Clean award or, if it’s free for both personal and commercial use, the 100% Free award.A program will not receive any award (or even be published on Softpedia) if it’s impossible to successfully pass through all of the above steps. But if it is possible, as you can see, the rules are very strict and no exception will ever be made. If a program fails to pass the adware test, it will be immediately marked as Adware, regardless of its popularity, developer or current user rating on Softpedia.Now that we’ve cleared this up, you might be asking yourselves ‘OK, but what does this have to do with Comodo?” Well, if you had searched Softpedia for Comodo in the past week, you would have surely noticed that the company’s flagship programs were no longer listed on Softpedia.This was not our decision, of course, but let’s start with the beginning.On April, 15th, Softpedia received an official cease and desist letter from the Comodo legal team requesting us to “discontinue all references on Softpedia identifying CIS as adware” within seven days, because Comodo Internet Security is not adware.The first thing we did was, of course, to double-check the license, but, as we’ve tried explaining to the Comodo team, CIS is indeed adware.Why? Well, for starters, because the installer attempts to change both the browser’s homepage and search engine. As if that wasn’t a good enough reason, the setup also offers to install SafeSurf. Here’s what the official Comodo letter states: “SafeSurf is optional and does not display unsolicited advertisements on a user’s computer, nor does it hijack browser settings or perform search overriding or home page changing without the user’s consent.” Aside from the fact that SafeSurf is a component that the program (CIS) does not require to fully function, therefore it alone would be a good reason to mark CIS as adware, this utility also installs Ask Toolbar without asking for the user’s permission. This type of behavior is clearly not the one described in the Comodo email and could be easily classified as spyware (since adware would imply prior user consent).

Update: It was brought to our attention that users installing SafeSurf are informed in the utility’s EULA regarding the inclusion of Ask.com software in their browser. Informing the user that third-party software irrelevant to the main product’s functionality will be installed without leaving room for option is not, by far, normal behavior. That would practically imply that producers can force users into installing any third-party software or changing their homepage or search engine and get away with it, because a notification was made in the EULA. Furthermore, the graphic provided in the setup window is clearly deceiving as it does not show the Ask.com toolbar that is installed along SafeSurf.

Well said Softpedia, I have nothing to add.

Interesting read: “Current Practices of IAC/Ask.com Toolbars by Benjamin Edelman”

Softpedia invite you to provide their article with your opinion here.

Update, 3th of January 2009

This is interesting: by coincidence I noticed today that Softpedia removed their article regarding CIS (Comodo Internet Security) and also all comments on it. We can only guess for the why of this Softpedia trash action, but I don’t like this  suprising hide action at all…

I traced reactions of the Softpedia community on the trash action: http://board.softpedia.com/index.php?showtopic=10428

Interesting comment of one of these people, he wrote in bold so it seem he is not happy at all with the Softpedia ‘we-didn’t-wrote-anything-action’:

“Why did Softpedia remove all the pages, dedicated to this topic? I know that Comodo IS has been re-listed again on Softpedia, but all the articles ARE to be and should have been archived, but NOT simply deleted – the way Softpedia did.
Now I can’t comprehend whether the information and conclusions, issued by Softpedia’s staff can be trusted or, may be, that is a way of blackmailing software developers? I still don’t understand why all the articles with negative claims towards Comodo were removed from Softpedia. It’s abnormal – Softpedia has outraged our rights for information. Would be grateful for explanation from the Softpedia’s representatives.”

FWIW, a recent post on DSLR attented me again on the issue Comodo/Softpedia, thanks folks for waking me up!

Additional Update, 3th of January 2009

Here the opinion of loyal Comodo Trooper Endymion on the issue, posted May 06, 2009 in the Comodo forum:

“How nice for softpedia to withdraw some far-fetched claims. (ATM it should be still possible to read the previous revision form google cache before it will be wiped out.) Guess they still forgot to mention that there are other criteria for adware other than the ones which Softpedia Awards are based on and likewise that eventual FPs about legitimate toobars are usually corrected by many AV vendors.Nevertheless they made at least an attempt to remove some mistakes.”

and Comodo Chief Melih’s reaction on it:

“That was after our 2nd legal letter we sent this week!We asked them to remove all the statements that were defamatory. They seem to have a habit of changing stuff without explanation. Its very underhanded to change stuff and pretend that it didn’t exist and without explaining why they changed it.”

A certain darkwraith007 provide the Comodo community subsequent with his POV:

“[at] Comodo Devs:You have lost my respect. Be glad that your product comes without a monetary cost. I may still be needing to use it if only until Steve Gibson finishes his firewall (whenever that is) and it gets put to the test. Hopefully it’ll be free, but that’s doubtful.I can’t believe there’s so much back and forth between the meaning of this word and that word and so forth.PEOPLE DO NOT WANT THE ASK.COM TOOLBAR OR OTHER CHANGED BROWSER SETTINGS, DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?I hope you all can understand that and repair the reputation you have tarnished among your users. I miss the days of the Kerio Personal Firewall…now its a paid product. >_>If you respond to crticism of your product by sending legal letters, then perhaps I’m not wanted here.”

Stay tuned!

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Anti-Spyware, Anti-Virus, Bundleware, Downloads, Friends, Malware, News, Recommended External Security Related Links, Toolbarware | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Important Newsflash: Malware is evolving, HijackThis not – OTListIt2 Log/Report Tool as replacement

Malware is evolving at a very fast rate, sadly HijackThis isn’t evolving so quickly. To be frankly, in the opinion of my Malware Hunting Team on my board Smokey’s Security Forums, HijackThis is past. So, time for a quick/necessary change.

We needed and found a sophisticated log/report tool to replace HijackThis, aimed at today’s demands AND futured ones. A tool that can coop with fast evolving malware: ‘OTListIt2’. This tool will serve our members looking for malware removal help in an optimal way, and it will accomplish at the same our high board demands and standards.

Smokey’s Security Forums is always looking for new development and improvement. OTListIt2 is just one of them.

More info: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/topic,27494.0.html

Smokey’s HijackThis & OTListIt2 Log Analysis and Malware Hunting, Removal & Cleaning Forum:

– English language: OTL (formerly OTListIt2) Log Analysis – Malware, Adware and Popup Removal & System Cleaning
– German -Deutscher Sprache: Hilfe bei Problemen mit Viren, Trojanern, Würmern, Spyware, Adware, Ransomware, Popups und sonstigen Schädlingen

Regards,

Smokey

On behalf of Starbuck, HJT/OTListIt2 Team Leader Smokey’s Security Forums

Update 2010-14-03: Guests allowed to post on Smokey’s for Log Analysis and Malware Removal help

April 18, 2009 Posted by | Anti-Spyware, Anti-Virus, News, Recommended External Security Related Links | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New: Advanced Microsoft Security Info Center on Smokey’s, and other developments also

Dear Reader,

Main targets of Smokey’s Security Forums are providing Support, Help, Advice and Education to the user, this all in the best possible way.
Board’s main territory is Security, however not limited to: Smokey’s is also provided with dedicated General Computer Forums: Hardware, Software, OS’s, Browsers, Tools & Related Topics.

To offer best posssible/up-to-date services to the user, Smokey’s is in a continuous process of evaluation and development. Standstill is equal to deterioration, such can and will damage user’s interests. The board’s aim is NOT to have a huge member amount, more important is to deliver DEDICATED QUALITY instead of uneducated bulk. Quality regarding board’s content, same is valid for staff.

Recent example of board development was the migration to new board software. This was a necessary move, to assure and maintain board’s high aims and standards. With the new board software, Smokey’s is equipped and armed for the future. New services are possible, and existing services can be improved. Remember, again, standstill is equal to deterioration….

Smokey’s is taking full advantage of the new board software. Existing services are improved, and new ones are introduced:

The Advanced Microsoft Security Info Center

This Center provide the user with up-to-date Microsoft Security Bulletins, Advisories, Out of  Band Bulletins and Security Research & Defense straight from the source: Microsoft Corporation.

The Center is devided in following sections:

– Microsoft Security Bulletins
– Microsoft Security Advisories
– Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC)
– Microsoft Security Research & Defense

All sections are updated with a frequency between 30 and 60 minutes, in this way the user is always up-to-date informed.

HijackThis & OTListIt2 Log Analysis and Malware Removal

The well-known section provide HijackThis & OTL (formerly OTListIt2) Log Analysis and Malware Removal Services (English language) and Hilfe bei Problemen mit Viren, Trojanern, Würmern, Spyware, Adware, Ransomware, Popups und sonstigen Schädlingen (German – Deutsch language) to members of the board, these services are (of course) only provided by full trained/qualified staff. Regrettably the internet is overcrowded with people that offer these services without decent training, these amateurs are damaging user’s interest notably.

Update 2010-14-03: Guests allowed to post on Smokey’s for Log Analysis and Malware Removal help

General Security & Anti-Malware Signatures Updates

This update section is continuous updated by dedicated staff, it belong to the best and most up-to-date on internet.

Current Security News

A comprehensive survey of current security news and background information, offered by acknowledged/reliable sources. Hourly update frequency.

CNet’s Webware

Not directly related to security, however a valuable source of information regarding Web 2.0 and related issues: applications, products, technologies, trends, development. And more.

Board Mangement and Staff hope you will appreciate board’s previous and current services.
Remember, all our services are for free.

Regards,

Smokey

April 18, 2009 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PCMag Avira Premium Security Suite 9 Review: product “fair” rated

Here a resume of a recent PCMag Avira Premium Security Suite 9 Review, with a disappointing “fair” rating:

Bottom Line

Avira’s suite needs a complete makeover, starting with the UI. Testing revealed a serious bug in the on-demand malware removal scanner—a bug that can leave ordinary users unprotected. The spam filter, while accurate, slowed e-mail downloading to a huge degree.

Pros

Firewall successfully protects against hack attacks and exploits. Good accuracy in spam filter. Small impact on system performance. Strips malware from incoming Web and e-mail streams.

Cons

Malware protection is intrusive, complex. Serious bug in on-demand malware scan. WebGuard failed to block phishing sites. Spam filter slows e-mail downloading to an unacceptable extent. Rudimentary backup and parental control.

Read the full Review and make up your own mind: PCMag

April 9, 2009 Posted by | Advisories, Anti-Spyware, Friends, News, Recommended External Security Related Links, Vulnerabilities | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pirate Bay News Flash: planned to launch a secure paid VPN service

Published by ars techinca.

March 26, 2009

The Pirate Bay is planning to launch a paid VPN service for users looking to cover their tracks when torrenting. The new service will be called IPREDator, named after the Swedish Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) that will go into effect in April. IPREDator is currently in private beta and is expected to go public next week for €5 per month.

IPREDator is clearly a response to the introduction of IPRED in Sweden, which will allow law enforcement and copyright holders to request the personal details of suspected infringers. The copyright holders will then be able to make direct contact with the accused users and presumably threaten them with lawsuits.

If users connect to The Pirate Bay through something like Tor or VPN, however, they’re less likely to be tracked. IPREDator’s website says that it won’t store any traffic data, as its entire goal is to help people stay anonymous on the web. Without any data to hand over, copyright owners won’t be able to find individuals to target.

Source/full article: ars technica

Update: Pirate Bay Torrents Spread Via Facebook

March 29, 2009

With the recent trial out of the way, it seems The Pirate Bay team have had more time for development of the site.

The team has recently rolled out a new feature which is almost guaranteed to spark controversy. Visitors to a torrent details page on the site will notice the addition of a brand new button labeled ‘Share on Facebook’.

Users clicking this button will be taken to the Facebook where the torrent will be added to the user’s profile. Anyone browsing the user’s profile page can simply click on the torrent and provided a torrent client is installed, download begins straightaway with no need to visit the Pirate Bay site.

The entertainment industries are obviously not amused by this new feature. A representative from the IFPI told the Swiss newspaper 20 Minuten that offering links to torrents that point to copyright works is illegal in Switzerland, while referring to the ShareReactor case .

Increasingly, social networking sites such as Facebook are used to share files with users linking to BitTorrent sites or file-hosters such as Rapidshare and Megaupload. Anti-piracy outfits see this as a new threat and request the site’s operators to remove the links.

Source/full article: TorrentFreak

Again an Update: Facebook Divorces Pirate Bay

April 08, 2009

Facebook is blocking Pirate Bay torrents from being shared on the popular social-networking site, a week after Pirate Bay unveiled a feature to allow Facebook users the ability to link torrents on their profiles.

Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt told TorrentFreak on Wednesday that the social-networking site “respects copyrights and our Terms of Service prohibits placement of ‘Share on Facebook’ links on sites that contain any content that is infringing. Given the controversy surrounding The Pirate Bay and the pending lawsuit against them, we’ve reached out to The Pirate Bay and asked them to remove the ‘Share on Facebook’ links from their site. The Pirate Bay has not responded and so we have blocked their torrents from being shared on Facebook.”

The development came the same day that The Pirate Bay announced more than 100,000 users of the world’s most notorious BitTorrent tracker have signed up for its new $6-monthly anonymity service designed to hide IP addresses from the authorities.

Source/full article: WiredBlog

April 9, 2009 Posted by | Friends, News, Recommended External Security Related Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Official Jetico Inc. Support Forums have new URLs

Like you have read here, I have migrated my board Smokey’s Security Forums to SMF – Simple Machines Forum baord software.

For technical reasons it wasn’t possible to use the URLs of the “old” board anymore, so all forums on my board have new ones.

– Index Smokey’s Security Forums: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums

– HijackThis & OTListIt2 Log Analysis and Malware Hunting, Removal & Cleaning (English language): http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,5.0.html and in German – Deutsch language: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,205.0.html

Concerning the Official Jetico Inc. Support Forums please update these bookmarks also:

– Jetico Personal Firewall v2 Support Forum: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,51.0.html
– Jetico Personal Firewall v2 Knowledge Base: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,60.0.html
– Jetico Personal Firewall v2 Bug Reports: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,63.0.html

– Jetico Personal Firewall v1 Support Forum: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,52.0.html

– Jetico BestCrypt for Windows Support Forum: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,70.0.html
– Jetico BestCrypt for Linux Support Forum: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,152.0.html
– Jetico BCVE BestCrypt Volume Encryption Support Forum: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,75.0.html

– Jetico BCArchive Support Forum: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,73.0.html

– Jetico BCWipe for Windows Support Forum: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,138.0.html
– Jetico BCWipe for UNIX Support Forum: http://www.smokey-services.eu/forums/index.php/board,153.0.html

Support, Help and advice will only be provided to registered board members.
You are invited to register (for free) here.

Regards,

Smokey

April 7, 2009 Posted by | Advisories, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Virus, Bundleware, Downloads, Friends, News, Phishing, Recommended External Security Related Links, Toolbarware, Vulnerabilities | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment