Monday, February 06, 2006

Spyware everywhere ?

Well, after recently installing (on an older machine owned by a friend) the latest Winamp (in order to minimize the risks after the extremely embarrassing Winamp CRITICAL SYSTEM VULNERABILITY ) , I have noted that the software firewall from that computer (an old and free tiny personal firewall that is no longer available but still works on older machines with windows 2000) was saying things like:
'Winamp' from your computer wants to connect to [], port 80
Another example of programs spying on their users ? Maybe not 100% that, but close - all the normal Winamp online stuff was actually disabled but somewhere hidden deep (probably on purpose) into General preferences -> Media library -> Online media tab ->Modify preferences button there is a setting called "Look for new Online Media Channels on exit" that seems to be enabled by default :(

That type of setting and the far more common one that is "checking for updates" are nothing new - most authors are probably curious on how often and by how many people their programs are used and for a free program that is not such a huge problem if you have a simple way to stop it (in Winamp case there is a way, but definitely it is NOT obvious).

Maybe more disturbing is when large monopolies with a bad track record are using very similar ways to log information about when you are starting (or stopping) their pre-installed programs and in the process also bother you with popup dialogs on how you should give them even more money just to upgrade to the latest (lame) version (even if you have just paid for the product 1 month ago) - no, this is not about M$ - I am speaking of Apple here and mostly about the iLife stuff - but obviously since their typical customer generally has no clue on privacy and security that remains a problem mostly ignored by the media and the general public :(


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, I was seeing that winamp was connecting on exit and wondering what it was upto, I thought I'd turned all online checks off. I'd have never have thought to look that deep into the settings for the library. Sneaky but nothing too bad.

12:49 PM  

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