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#1 inappropriate

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 02:09 PM

Hi,

What's the consensus on smileycentral.com? I like their stuff... is it safe to use?

Thanks

#2 Budfred

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 02:51 PM

Definite malware...
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#3 Swandog46

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 03:33 PM

Well, I was intrigued by this thread, so I installed SmileyCentral on my test machine (please do not try this without an isolated virtual machine --- it is live malware!), and it bundled the entire MyWebSearch packet --- email plugin, BHO, and toolbar. This stuff is all classified by CastleCops as spyware:
http://www.castlecop...ail_Plugin.html

Here's some more information:

http://www.doxdesk.c...e/MySearch.html

http://www.pchell.co...websearch.shtml

It is not particularly malicious (does not track browser usage, or install further infections), but it is certainly unwanted software and usually classified as bad.

#4 theCaptain

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Posted 13 September 2005 - 02:42 PM

Well, I was intrigued by this thread, so I installed SmileyCentral on my test machine (please do not try this without an isolated virtual machine --- it is live malware!), and it bundled the entire MyWebSearch packet --- email plugin, BHO, and toolbar.  This stuff is all classified by CastleCops as spyware:
http://www.castlecop...ail_Plugin.html

Here's some more information:

http://www.doxdesk.c...e/MySearch.html

http://www.pchell.co...websearch.shtml

It is not particularly malicious (does not track browser usage, or install further infections), but it is certainly unwanted software and usually classified as bad.

 


It's not malware or spyware. It uninstalls easily enough.

#5 theCaptain

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Posted 13 September 2005 - 02:45 PM

It's not malware or spyware.  It uninstalls easily enough.

 


Note: I should disclose that I work for the company (Ask Jeeves).

#6 Budfred

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Posted 13 September 2005 - 04:30 PM

And Ask Jeeves has a campaign going to convince everyone that they do not distribute malware, but several of their applications contain "permission" to install programs that people do not want or ask for buried deep in a very elaborate EULA... If they do not want to be considered malware, they need to ask specifically before installing each of the programs they are foisting on people instead of sneaking them in under cover of legalese... If you offer me an apple and wrap it in a piece of paper that says you get to stop by my house each day to try to get me to buy any number of different products, is that full disclosure?? It is semi-legit organizations like Ask Jeeves that hold up legislation that might actually have an impact on the malware problem, by defending their "right" to foist ads on people with hidden "permissions" given for that privilege...

I have no sympathy for the plight of companies like Ask Jeeves being lumped in the same category as the most evil CWS infection...
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#7 Tiagara

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 04:56 AM

More about AskJeeves/SmileyCentral/FunWebProducts
Things We'd Like To Ask Jeeves

#8 theCaptain

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 08:38 AM

More about AskJeeves/SmileyCentral/FunWebProducts
Things We'd Like To Ask Jeeves

 


Why do these guys always rant all over Ask Jeeves every chance they get? I tell you why - they have a competing product. They have a smiley product that they sell.

#9 Alpha_Blue

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 09:54 PM

Not so fast Captain. It's nice that you are trying to defend your product, but you will notice that BEN ENDELMAN wrote that rant...he is an ANTISPYWARE researcher...he is totally neutral, they are merely quoting him...he is going after adware/malware distributors...like yourselves...

They may have a smiley product they sell, but they dont give people adware. Anyways...read this: http://www.benedelma...s/050205-1.html
this show that ben himself is working against only malware and spyware and adware, he is not working for any smiley company..he is independant and neutral, merely trying to protect others.
Your arguments are useless-give up doing what you are doing and get back on the right path before your company loses credibility worldwide.

#10 theCaptain

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 08:43 AM

Not so fast Captain.  It's nice that you are trying to defend your product, but you will notice that BEN ENDELMAN wrote that rant...he is an ANTISPYWARE researcher...he is totally neutral, they are merely quoting him...he is going after adware/malware distributors...like yourselves...

 


No fast one here. I'm almost certain Ben E. did not write that because of 2 things: Firstly the rant talks about all kinds of unsubstantiated things that Ben E. most certainly wouldn't do being the industry's foremost expert. Secondly, why would the article refer to Ben E.'s work like this: "So, what does noted spyware-researcher Ben Edelman have to say concerning Ask Jeeves?" if it where written by the man himself? I don't think so.

I subscribe to this outfit's newsletter and inside nearly every newsletter they have another jab at Ask Jeeves for one reason or another. And usually it's some sort of garbage saying that Smiley Central is adware because it has an ad embedded in the product (but so does MSN, AIM, etc.?!?!). Well, if that's their definition of adware then so be it, I'll wait for the Anti-Spyware coalition to complete it's work on the definition and use that. I couldn't figure out why they would jab at us so hard and so often, until I found out about their smileycons product (and screen savers and mail stationary). For $15 you too can have their smileys. Or you can opt to download smileycentral smileys for free - the catch is that Smiley Central monetizes through search traffic (just like google, yahoo, msn, etc.) instead of your credit card. It's simply a different business model. (Like Premium Cable channels vs. commercial TV). However, based on what I know, I think that their rant is biased, not credible, and with questionable motives. But that's just my OPINION. :D

-K

#11 jedi

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 08:50 AM

I think that their rant is biased, not credible, and with questionable motives. But that's just my OPINION.


Unfortunately, given who you work for, the same applies to your opinion. :hmmm:

Edited by jedi, 07 October 2005 - 08:51 AM.

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#12 tashi

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 12:15 PM

Unfortunately, given who you work for, the same applies to your opinion. :hmmm:

 

Indeed.
http://blogs.zdnet.com/Spyware/?p=654

No truth like the whole truth.

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#13 Swandog46

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 12:25 PM

And indeed Ben Edelman did write that page; it is hosted on his site, and referred to in the Zdnet article as his writing. In addition, this sentence: "So, what does noted spyware-researcher Ben Edelman have to say concerning Ask Jeeves?" does not appear anywhere in the article... so quite frankly, I don't see what you are talking about Captain. Rather, Edelman writes:

Over the past six months, I've captured a series of videos showing Ask Jeeves' MyWay and MySearch software installed through security holes -- without notice, disclosure, or consent.

and then provides a link to the video, hosted at the exact same domain. So why would you think the writing undercut the authorship?

#14 bedelman

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 08:31 PM

Ben Edelman here, happy to clear up any questions about what I did or didn't write.

I wrote the May 2 article hosted at my site: http://www.benedelma...s/050205-1.html (linking to a video showing AJ software installed through a security exploit, with no notice or consent). I also wrote http://www.benedelma...kjeeves-banner/ (showing AJ software promoted at a kids site, using euphemisms in place of plain language, failing to affirmatively show a license [or even alert users to a license, on XP SP2]).

I didn't write the separate articles at zdnet or thundercloud (though I am quoted in the latter).

#15 theCaptain

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 09:13 AM

So there you have it, Ben Edelman didn't write the rant, and so therefore it's not the unbiased scientific analysis one might expect from such a source. I've merely pointed out a conflict of interest, and you can be the judge.

Ben Edelman's articles mainly concern distribution issues that AJ will at some point in the future be addressing in public. But not here and now.

As far as Smiley Central is concerned, the original question here is whether it is safe, and I have to say my opinion is that it's perfectly safe. It's not spyware or malware and basically has its functionality bundled with a search toolbar and comes with some other functionality - all of which is user configurable. If you don't like it, it's easily uninstalled. Any risk of downloading is offset with resolution (easy uninstall).

-K

PS I'm not "selling" Smiley Central here, I'm just telling it the way I see it.

#16 jedi

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 11:11 AM

If you don't like it, it's easily uninstalled. Any risk of downloading is offset with resolution (easy uninstall).


Doublespeak for 'It's installed without consent but that's OK as it's easy to remove.'

Not nearly good enough.

Tell me where on this page it says that extra programs you probably don't want will be installed.
http://www.smileycentralfree.com/uk/

Oh, it doesn't. End of story. That page is targeted at kids, it stealth-installs, and the above phrase is your best attempt at a rebuttal, is it? To me, that's a very strange definition of 'perfectly safe'. I'm afraid I do classify that in a similar catagory as CWS, I'm sure they would justify changing your homepage in a very similar way. And at least they mainly target adults looking for porn, online drugs and so on, not children. Nice work Captain Ask Jeeves.
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#17 Swandog46

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 12:36 PM

The article that I was referring to that Ben Edelman wrote was the one hosted at his site. It shows a video where your 'product' exploits security holes to install without a prompt. How is this a 'distribution issue'?

#18 Alpha_Blue

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 07:32 PM

Captain, it is useless to push your point any longer unless your website cleans up its' act. You have been proven wrong by many antispyware experts in the field and they know what they are talking about. Please listen to them

#19 Centaure

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Posted 11 October 2005 - 01:32 PM

[COLOR=blue] :rofl: They do use sheep manures to make fertilizer so we can grow food don't they ???



[COLOR=red][SIZE=7][B]But in the beginning it's still the same stuff....

:thumbsdown: to You Captain Spy
One for all and all for one !!!

#20 theCaptain

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 07:23 AM

Somebody has a signature around here that says, "Never argue with an idiot, they'll bring you down to their level and beat you on experience". I thought it was great.

#21 jedi

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 10:15 AM

Someone else said,
'The point at which people start slinging insults is the point at which they realise they've lost the argument'.
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#22 theCaptain

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 12:52 PM

Someone else said,
'The point at which people start slinging insults is the point at which they realise they've lost the argument'.

 


What a facinating insight. Well done Jedi. That might explain why they Rant on AJ all the time. Perhaps they're losing the battle and that their business model is failing? I don't know for sure but it's a great observation. :D

Tell me where on this page it says that extra programs you probably don't want will be installed.
http://www.smileycentralfree.com/uk/


If you click through that page, it goes to our site where the user gets disclosure. They are an affiliate and that's the reason why we route ALL of our Smiley traffic through our site.

I do listen. That's why I'm here.

So, some background..... I only joined Ask Jeeves in July, and cannot really comment on what happened before that time until I get all of the facts straight. I actually come from Net Nanny where I was the Senior Product Manager for the well known child protection software. I make software for a living and one of the things that Product Managers do is collect feedback from stakeholders (everyone with an interest in the product). I realize that you guys think I'm just some spokesperson pushing propaganda, but that's not the case. I always try to be as objective as I can. And I don't think AJ would hire (and pay) someone like me if they didn't really have the resolve to make this situation better.

However, what I can comment on is what's going on now. And what I can say is that there absolutely should not be any installs through security exploits or without consent. Part of my responsibility is to make sure that it doesn't happen - and I'm even willing to personally offer a bounty to the first person who finds any one of our affiliates doing so from this time forward. This is not a PR gimmick (if our PR company knew I was here they'd have a cow) because it'll come out of my pocket (and will not be expensed) but rather a token of appreciation for helping me do my job well. The bounty: $100 per affiliate. (Hey, I've got kids to feed).

<< Conditions: I reserve the right to withdraw this offer at any time. Offer will expire in 3 months of this posting. Void where prohibited. One per customer. I reserve the right to add more conditions at a later time >>

Call me crazy but the more eyes and ears I have out there, the safer I will feel.

I absolutely positively want to hear constructive feedback. All I ask is that it's constructive and fact based.

That's all I have to say right now.

-K

Edited by theCaptain, 12 October 2005 - 02:47 PM.


#23 Alpha_Blue

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 01:19 PM

Whats with the rainbowed flashing peace sign? I am sorry but honestly I cannot follow what you are trying to say.

Again, I re-iterate what I am saying:

If AskJeeves is using unethical methods, which evidence shows they are, please stop working for them and supporting them UNLESS you can get them to straighten out their act. If they refuse to do so, get a better job with an honest company. I realize you need money to feed your kids and that is important, but working for a company that makes money using weird tactics is not a good idea.

Edited by Anti_Spyware, 12 October 2005 - 01:21 PM.


#24 theCaptain

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 02:38 PM

If AskJeeves is using unethical methods, which evidence shows they are, please stop working for them and supporting them UNLESS you can get them to straighten out their act.  If they refuse to do so, get a better job with an honest company.  I realize you need money to feed your kids and that is important, but working for a company that makes money using weird tactics is not a good idea.

 


That's just it. Smiley Central is not being distributed using unethical methods. As soon as the well known Ben E. exploit example was discovered, it was stopped (before my time). That kind of thing shouldn't be happening at this point in time. I'm on board now to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

The reason I mentioned feeding the kids was because I thought that my offering of $100 would be thought as too small.

-K

Note: I deleted the 'peace sign' thingy.

Edited by theCaptain, 12 October 2005 - 02:51 PM.


#25 Tuxedo Jack

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Posted 12 October 2005 - 03:55 PM

If I may comment, my memory (assuming that its rather sievelike qualities haven't kicked in) is that SmileyCentral is targeted by scanners, and until the scanners feel that Ask Jeeves has cleaned up its act, they will continue to target SmileyCentral. As long as the scanners target it, we will be targeting it for removal too. When they stop filtering it and are satisfied that AJ has improved its practices, we will stop targeting it.

Edited by Tuxedo Jack, 12 October 2005 - 03:57 PM.

Signature file is under revision. This will be back shortly.

#26 Centaure

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Posted 15 October 2005 - 01:23 PM

[COLOR=purple]

Well, I was intrigued by this thread, so I installed SmileyCentral on my test machine (please do not try this without an isolated virtual machine --- it is live malware!), and it bundled the entire MyWebSearch packet --- email plugin, BHO, and toolbar.  This stuff is all classified by CastleCops as spyware:
http://www.castlecop...ail_Plugin.html

Here's some more information:

http://www.doxdesk.c...e/MySearch.html

http://www.pchell.co...websearch.shtml

It is not particularly malicious (does not track browser usage, or install further infections), but it is certainly unwanted software and usually classified as bad.

 


It's not malware or spyware. It uninstalls easily enough.

 

[/SIZE][/B] Huh ???? :gasp: :blink: :oops: :gack:
One for all and all for one !!!

#27 Centaure

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Posted 15 October 2005 - 05:32 PM

Just to be on the open minded side of this i try to dload smileyCentral....

Nod32 would'nt let me :blink:

Now what can I do to be sure I infect my pc ? :wtf:

Edited by Centaure, 15 October 2005 - 05:38 PM.

One for all and all for one !!!

#28 Chocomandan

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 02:07 AM

Typical person trying to defend theyre virus infected product, offers $100 to the person who finds its infected

#29 Tiagara

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 07:42 AM

So there you have it, Ben Edelman didn't write the rant, and so therefore it's not the unbiased scientific analysis one might expect from such a source. I've merely pointed out a conflict of interest, and you can be the judge.

Ben Edelman's articles mainly concern distribution issues that AJ will at some point in the future be addressing in public. But not here and now.

As far as Smiley Central is concerned, the original question here is whether it is safe, and I have to say my opinion is that it's perfectly safe. It's not spyware or malware and basically has its functionality bundled with a search toolbar and comes with some other functionality - all of which is user configurable. If you don't like it, it's easily uninstalled. Any risk of downloading is offset with resolution (easy uninstall).

-K

PS I'm not "selling" Smiley Central here, I'm just telling it the way I see it.


Tell us, Captain, is AJ/FunWebProducts an altruistic or philanthropic venture? Tell us straight out that you don't make any money from FunWebProducts, et.al.. Tell us that you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on Internet advertising and registering dozens of domain names to get around webmasters who don't want FunWebProducts advertised on their sites and try to ban known URLS of FunWebProducts, and tens of thousands of dollars on graphic artists and programming fees - all just because your just such nice people. You just want to give back something to the Internet community.

You make childish accusations that have no basis in fact (Thundercloud.net is jealous because you make a competing product). They make several products only none of which competes with your products, since your products are adware and/or browser/search engine manipulators or hijackers. I believe they show a picture of the SmileyCentral interface display (oh my!) an advertisement. To me that makes it adware although one can argue semantically ad nauseam about the definition of adware. And, I believe there's a screen cap of MyWebSearch (MySearch, MyTotalSearch, MyWay Toolbar, and other names du jour that you use) manipulating search results and desperately trying to disguise advertisements as search results (labeling them as paid advertisements in light gray hoping that the user won't notice). By manipulating search results so the user has to scroll down one and a half or two screens to get to the "real" search results you're playing the "click on me" game. Every click makes you money. Not only is this deceptive to the user but you're also cheating the advertiser who is paying for the clicks.

You say you give full disclosure of every program that you install in the FunWebProducts suite. Indeed, you love to play semantics. What do you consider "full disclosure"? Do you tell them you're going to install 12 or so poorly programmed applications which, unless removed by the user, will start up with Windows and use up valuable system resources? Do you give the user a list of programs and allow them to pick which ones they want to install? Why don't you allow people to install SmileyCentral without the MyWebSearch (or name du jour) toolbar? You make it sound like the MySearch (MyTotalSearch, MyWebSearch, et.al. ) toolbar is beneficial. I would like you to tell me in your personal opinion how having to scroll through one and a half to two screens of paid links to get to my search results is beneficial? Why would anyone rather have the MyWebSearch, MyTotalSearch, MyWay Toolbar, MySearch, and whatever new names you think of in between now and tomorrow, than the Google search bar which shows real search results without scrolling through dozens of paid links?

You have no defense other than illogical rambling and calling other people jealous. Your company spends hundreds of thousands of dollars (perhaps millions) developing and distributing a suite of "Free" programs and expect us to believe your company does it because their such nice people - just giving back to the Internet community.

If anything I've said here is not true: prove it. Prove you don't display dozens of paid links disguised as search results (disguised as much as you legally can disguise them) before displaying legitimate search results. Deny that you get paid each time someone intentionally or unintentionally clicks on one of these displayed paid links. Then, tell me, you think it's fair to advertisers who actually believe that people click on these links 100% of the time because they want to. Now tell me that SmileyCentral does not display any advertising (text or otherwise) in its program interface.

If, in fact, you provide these products free, and you don't generate any revenue from these products at all - tell us so and we'll believe you. Honest!

If you do generate revenue from these products tell us exactly how you do it and how many millions of dollars in revenue you generate by enticing people into installing "FunWebProducts" or any of its pieces. Tell us that all the relevant articles on the Web about computer problems caused by your products are merely figments of imagination. Tell us that the volume of articles about deinstallation problems (parts left over, registry entries left after uninstallation, computer problems caused by your products, etc. are simply incorrect.)

Finally, tell us why AskJeeves, a once respected company, would want to continue to offer FunWebProducts when FunWebProducts is recognized by many anti-spyware applications and sites as, at the very least, undesirable software and worse. Why would AskJeeves want to sully its name if these products do not generate huge amounts of money?

Tell me how many people would actually choose to install FunWebProducts if you really did give full disclosure about all of the dozen or so programs that will be installed on unsuspecting users' computers; that they all start with Windows and that you cannot remove the MySearch (and other aliases you use) toolbar or the other programs will not function. If you think just as many would install FunWebProducts with real full disclosure, then why don't you do it?

#30 Bmwboy

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Posted 24 April 2006 - 03:05 PM

Easily removable?
That's the biggest lie i have seen. It took me forever to remove, the uninstall program left so much crap on my system.

#31 theCaptain

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 08:43 AM

For the record –

Cloudeight do make a competing product. Go to http://www.smileycons.com/. $15 cost.
Our software has 1 item that runs at startup, not “dozens”.
It is easily removable – Add/Remove programs and a menu item within the toolbar do the trick.
And yes, of course, we make money through sponsored listings. Just like Google, Yahoo, etc.

-- much of this was already discussed earlier in the thread --

If there is an actual problem with the product, then of course we want to know about it and will do our best to fix it. PM or email me. klawrence at ask (dot) com

It's been 6 months since I offered a $100 reward out of my own pocket for anyone who could find the software being installed through an exploit. Still nothing. That’s a good thing but not unexpected.

-K




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