Booting up a friend's computer last month, it took only minutes before I was bombarded with pop up ads. I'm rather ignorant when it comes to spyware and adware, having never had one of them on my computer. But my attention was caught by the name in the Window's title bar: Zango.
Zango is the product of spyware/adware maker 180solutions. The company is desperately trying to rid itself from its spyware image. Last year the firm filed several lawsuits on its crusade, suing some affiliates who had illegally installed the software (the suit has since been dropped, fuelling speculation that it was merely a PR move) and Zone Labs, a maker of anti-spyware software (because the company calls Zango spyware).
After witnessing 180solution's work in the wild, I'll back up Zone Labs' claim that this is spyware, and a very nasty kind.
In claiming that its software isn't spyware, the 180solutions says that its software is installed willingly and knowingly and that it'll present users with a periodic pop-up informing them about the software. They also claim that the users will only receive a few pop ups per day.
My experience: within 10 minutes I was presented with at least four pop-up windows. The owners of the computer had no recollection of installing the product and had never seen a pop-up informing them of its presence.
Furthermore, it was nearly impossible to remove this piece of malware. Zango wasn't listed in the Add/remove programmes list. And the computer was unable to visit certain websites, which conveniently happened to be been sites where users could download anti spyware software. In the end we used a second computer to download Ad Aware and transferred it to the infected laptop using a USB memory key.
In all fairness, the software at least identified itself in the pop-up ads. But other than that, Zango acted an behaved just like your average internet worm, virus or spyware application. People making such products belong behind bars for illegal hacking activities.
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