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Another spyware altering Google SERPs?

 7:29 pm on Jun 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Before anything else, I've updated Ad Aware and ran a check on my system and sure enough it came up with nothing.

I run a check on a commercial keyword. The serps load just about all way through (the loading bar is still active) and at the very last second the first few results change (the average Joe with several windows open would never see it if another window is active in the meantime).

The format of the results is:

Catchy title
Over-hyped description (same length as normal description)
domain.com - Similar pages (notice not [www...] in front)

Apart from the http:// I wouldn't be able to tell the 'fake' listing from organic listings.

When I mouse-over I get 'domain.com'. So I copy the link and paste it in the address bar and voila 'http://www.webthiswebthat.com/search/validate.php?str and then an endless string. If posting the name of the spyware is not allowed please edit.

I just thought Google would like to know. I've never seen such a smart spyware that alters results to make them virtually identical to organic results. Not sure if this affects other search engines. Will try.



 8:54 pm on Jun 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Might wanna try SpyBot and A2 as well. I've found they catch a lot of things that AdAware doesn't, and visa versa.


 9:05 pm on Jun 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

You might also want to try BHOdemon (do a Google search). A BHO is a Browser Helper Object. This is basically a plug-in for Internet Explorer. Examples of wanted BHO's are Adobe Acrobat viewer and the Google toolbar. Some spyware programs are installed as BHO's and they can modify the pages you view. Use BHOdemon to see what is installed, and remove anything that looks fishy. If you aren't sure, do a Google search on the name of the file you find, and you will probably find out who put it there and what it does.

Good luck!


 9:09 pm on Jun 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

the web is in a sorry state when we need 3 applications to clean our computers from surfing. It amazes me how affective these scumwares must be when it hits the less computer literate.


 9:13 pm on Jun 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I feel like a broken record. I picked up a forced BHO on a brand new computer yesterday, first day out of the carton. Yahoo toolbar seems to have gotten it.

I had run several cleaners on my previous system which is totally trashed, a complete loss from that garbage as of Sunday - no help.


 1:12 am on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

the web is in a sorry state when we need 3 applications to clean our computers from surfing. It amazes me how affective these scumwares must be when it hits the less computer literate.

Good point. I would say that the web isn't in a sorry state, but the software that we are running is. Why should the operating system and Internet Browser let you get tricked into installing things that you don't want? Why is it so difficult to see what is running on YOUR computer. Why do we need to check in 4 or 5 places on our system to try to see what is there, or use so many defensive / cleanup tools. It is not the spyware / scumware vendor's computer... it's yours! It's just bad design. Sure... it's supposed to be a "feature" of the OS that allows little applications to be installed so easily... but I think a better feature would be to have a single place where you could see all applications, plug-ins, etc. that are installed on your system, running or not. The owner / user should be in complete control of their computer.

I think Microsoft is working on this problem for XP service pack 2, and even more so for Longhorn. Don't get me wrong, I like Microsoft, but I think they have a lot of work left to do.

As a webmaster, I think the same principle applies. Web users don't like uninvited, distracting pop-ups, animated / flashing ads, or other nonsense that leaves them feeling like they just lost control of the situation. Respect the visitor, and maybe they will stick around and even come back.


 1:56 am on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

OS's and browsers are to blame, but the main responsibilty is on people that create them.
Saying it is the OS or Browser at fault is like blaming the gun manufacture and not the murder.

The problem is there is no accountablity. The internet is like a mini society. Starts out without any law/order and over time sees the need for some sort of governance. Spam laws are attempting to fix one part of this, but nothing is in place for Scum merchants.

--steps off his high horse--


 4:31 am on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'd agree with the sorry state of spyware/adware/malware. I get more house calls about this, and most people don't know why their computers are spitting out Viagra and Porn ads. Most of them just stop using their computer thinking they broke something, too embarassed to ask someone to fix it. That is just sad.


 4:43 am on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

I had a friend call Dell support because his computer was overrun with spyware. The flat out told him it was a lost cause and to just buy a new computer. I suppose that makes good business sense from their end, but I told him that's a load of crap and went over there and fixed it for him. It's not hard to see where they're coming from though... it took me probably 4 hours to clean all of the spyware/malware/virii off his comp and I was there in person. Doing it over the phone would probably be impossible.


 4:46 am on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is becoming a MUCH bigger problem than spam IMO.

More Traffic Please

 4:55 am on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

I ran into this same dilemma a couple of weeks ago. Spybot and Adaware are great programs, but I learned that they are limited in their ability to deal with certain spyware programs. If you have been infected and these programs don't help you, I would suggest doing a search for "hijack this" on Google. It's a cool little free program that will analyze your hard drive for tell tale signs of spyware. Once the program has run, you can copy and past it's findings to different security forums and people knowledgeable in spyware will tell you what to delete and what to save. The program has check boxes next to the different suspicious code lines that make it real easy to remove the spyware. It was the only way I got my computer back.

A freeware program that is designed to prevent spyware from being installed in the first place can be found here [javacoolsoftware.com ]

I think I'm still within the TOS guidelines on the above URL, but if not, just remove the paragraph.

[edited by: More_Traffic_Please at 5:07 am (utc) on June 9, 2004]


 5:05 am on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hijack this is great against those programs that 'reinvent' themselves by changing the system registry.
But I found out that even it has limitations against trojans and spyware that comes hidden in freeware and shareware. As a result I had to buy an anti-spyware program, and never use freeware, etc. anymore.


 5:25 am on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

What I also find horrible is that you get invaded with these things simply by clicking on a site right on the search page. And obviously some are making darn good $$ for optimizing those sites so they rank high enough to pull the people in. I just don't get it.


 6:39 am on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

The first thing you should do on any new XP installation is run Service Pack 1, then run XP Antispy. This will fix a few major holes in XP and also stop it sending reports to M$. Then it is absolutely essential that you install Spybot S&D immediantly, update it, and run it. Also be sure to immunize your pc and set bad page blocking in IE to on. Running it will also eliminate Media Player's little reports to M$ and fixes a few little problems with IE. Then you need to install a virus checker. Then install adaware for later. And now you can safely surf the net using Microsoft's secure OS! (Oh you may want to download a tweak and fix up some of the blatant active X security holes in IE.)


 8:04 am on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

The above posts re-enforce my point.

The internet has reached a point where it is dangerous for the lay person to surf beyond sites like hotmail and yahoo.

If they click the wrong thing or dont understand the ten step process to immunizing their computer, it gets infected.

This is dramatically affecting the adoption of the internet and people confidence in ecommerce.


 8:15 am on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Every time I see someone elses computer it is full of all kinds of stuff like that. They know that very few people know how to fix it. That is why they do it. I guess it works. Maybe I should do that. Can you put those things on sites that have adsense or will they pull your adsense.


 12:43 pm on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>>>The internet has reached a point where it is dangerous for the lay person to surf

Exactly, most of my freinds and family who are computer novices are affected by spyware. The biggest problem is they do not know how to clean the scum off the machine and they do not know how to avoid another infection.

Sad, but this has to be having a negative affect on e-commerce.


 1:48 pm on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Spyware is a major problem and it's only going to get bigger. This is why I wrote and published a free Anti Spyware guide on my website.

The guide was designed so someone with very little computer knowledge can fight back, install the right software and keep everything clean.

Sticky me and I'll send you the link.


 8:56 pm on Jun 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

whatch expedia using affiliates to spam engines. www.sharkbrother.com then check out cached version of page


 12:22 am on Jun 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

There is an interesting article on CNET right now about a spyware program that exploits a couple of Internet Explorer flaws. It seems to work on behalf of a Costa Rica based search engine called i-lookup.com.


Maybe this new spyware is the reason that some of the old spyware tools didn't work for some of you with recent problems.


 2:05 am on Jun 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I had this exact problem (it would change the Google results). Ad-Aware, Spybot and Pest Patrol would remove it, but it would reinstall the next time I opened IE. The program that finally removed it is called Spysweeper. It's made by Webroot. It was about the 7th or 8th program I tried.

It's a sad day that I have to run all these programs to keep my computer clean. All that and I run a firewall.


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