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Monday, December 06, 2004

Spyware: Good For You?

Now I've heard everything.

Wired News has an article that basically says that, to some people, spyware is a good thing, the price of downloading software. These people? College students who would rather have the spyware that comes with file-sharing software than not.

The program in question is called Marketscore, and it comes bundled with IMesh. By all accounts, Marketscore is a nightmare of a program. It installs without warning, reports everything you do, and can read encrypted data such as passwords and credit card numbers.

To most people this would be a bad thing. But according to posters at IMesh's forums, spyware is good, because "without spyware there's no such thing as free software", and "you have to support spyware if you're going to have free file-sharing applications". Really? I've been using BitTorrent forever without any spyware. I have a ton of open source applications that have no spyware. Even all of the good anti-spyware programs are free, yet seem to not need spyware. Spyware is not the price of doing business; its the price of doing business with sleazy companies.

As the article continues, it explains how some college campuses, realizing Marketscore has been installed on a huge number of campus machines, have blocked the Marketscore ports to prevent the spread of the program and the incredible security risk it poses. Because Marketscore hijacks over your internet connection, those who have it lost their connection, and are complaining that they want the university to stop blocking it.
"This sucks," said a Pennsylvania State University student in an e-mail interview. "I can't surf the web and I can't trade files if I uninstall the spyware. Why can't the college let me do what I want to do with my computer? The school computer security guys are being way more annoying than the spyware was."
Really? The campus security guys, who don't want everyone's credit card info being handed to a company that has already done malicious action just by putting the software on your PC and hijacking the HOSTS file, they're worse? Buy a clue.

I wonder if these moronic proponents of spyware realize that it is slowing down their computer? That the reason they can't play a decent game of CounterStrike is because Marketscore is ""routing your internet activities through our service". That the reason a nearly new 2.0 gigahertz computer runs like my old Cyrix 150 MHz because the spyware has turned it to molasses. That irresponsibly installing this stuff only hurts yourself in the end, and that no amount of stolen music can justify letting some company yank your credit card out from under you.

Oh, and that at some point, the RIAA is going to realize that Marketscore has the names, addresses, and Social Security numbers of everyone it needs to sue. Yeah, that'll be a pretty day.

Still worth it?


Blogger mvaneerde said...

BitTorrent isn't exactly free - you have to donate some of your bandwidth. Which is fine, most people on high-speed DSL or cable connections aren't using 100% of their bandwidth 100% of the time.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's like saying the internet isn't free, because it eats up bandwidth. Yeah, you pay for the net, but anything which doesn't cost more above that is categorically free.

1:07 PM  

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