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Microsoft downgrades Claria adware detections to "ignore"



Microsoft's Windows AntiSpyware application is no longer flagging adware products from Claria Corp. as a threat to PC users.

Less than a week after published reports of acquisition talks between Microsoft Corp. and the Redwood City, Calif.-based distributor of the controversial Gator ad-serving software, security researchers have discovered that Microsoft has quietly downgraded its Claria detections.

Anti-spyware activist Eric L. Howes, who serves as a consultant to Sunbelt Software, discovered the default changes during a recent test that included four Claria applications: Dashbar, Gator, PrecisionTime and Weatherscope.

According to the results published by Howes, four different builds of the Windows AntiSpyware beta detected the Claria products, but the default recommendation was "ignore."

Prior to the recent tests, Microsoft's AntiSpyware tool detected Claria's products and presented users with a recommended action of "Quarantine."

Although the default has been changed to "ignore," users can still change the action to "Quarantine" or "Remove" via a drop-down menu.

PointerClick here to read more from columnist David Coursey about the rumored deal.

Writing on the popular Broadband Reports security forum, Howes described the default changes as "troubling," coming so close on the heels of the acquisition talks between Microsoft and Claria.

According to Sunbelt president Alex Eckelberry, the default recommendation from Microsoft occurred on March 31. As part of a prior agreement, Microsoft is sharing adware/spyware definitions with Sunbelt.

PointerRead more here about questions over the ownership of the Giant AntiSpyware code.

"At any rate, does this mean that Claria will, in fact, be purchased by Microsoft? Not necessarily. It could mean, however, that the two companies are working together in some other capacity, or that Claria has successfully lobbied Microsoft to change the default action. Or, it's a simple oversight," Eckelberry wrote in a blog entry that included screenshots of Microsoft's Claria detections.

PointerTo read more about Symantec filing a lawsuit to retain the right to flag Hotbar products as a potential security risk for PC users, click here.

In addition to the Gator-branded products, Claria's adware applications include eWallet, DateManager, WeatherScope and PrecisionTime. The company's behavior-tracking database of users' surfing habits is believed to be among the biggest in the world. Special Report: Spyware

In the midst of increased consumer awareness and general distrust of the sector, Claria has attempted to clean up its reputation, distancing itself from some of the distribution affiliates that secretly installed its software, and making its software easier to remove.

However, critics argue that the adware products present a privacy threat and also degrades computer performance.

A recent spyware report from Webroot Software Inc. lists Claria's software as the second most prolific adware install, appearing on more than 2 percent of consumer desktops.

Webroot also counts Claria's GAIN application as the second biggest threat to desktop computers.

PointerCheck out's Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer's Weblog.

Good job Microsoft. :rolleyes:


Hella Constipated

Free Spybot/Adaware config here. Doesn't cost a dime and "I get results!" "But my methods are unorthodox!" I don't like Spyware explosion factories!

P.S.: I've become a Something Awful addict, Jungie, and I take back everything nasty I said. Greatest. Site. Ever.

Microsoft anti-virus: Install Linux. Honest to God, if they marketed an anti-virus app the irony would be so immense that I'd shit myself. They already acquired one a while back and I can't wait to see the end product.

"New from Microsoft! Microsoft Anti-Virus 2006! Get it FREE* with your purchase of Windows XP 3D**!"

*$50 shipping and handling fee required.
**Formerly known as Windows Longhorn.



Oppressing your posts...
ummm.. just change the "ignore" to "remove"? but lately i've found that the proggy has been missing alot of spyway/adware... so I just kill it by hand...


Gimmie Pwnies
I can see it now. Spyware creators paying microsoft to keep their products off their program. Brillant!


Hella Constipated
ChilianFuckFace said:
Not surprised. Microsoft is a money making machine. All they care about is money. Fuck the end user.
Fucking word. Server 2003 SP1 is pretty fucking crippled, if ya ask me. It handles drivers horribly. It's about on par with 98SE for IDE drivers...