Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Forum Moderators: incrediBILL

Message Too Old, No Replies

Is it illegal for companies to infect adware using Windows Exploits?



8:10 pm on May 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

With so many companies finding Windows exploits to infect computers with adware, I am wondering what the law thinks about this in the USA. Is it illegal to use an exploit to install adware files on another users computer without them knowing anything about it? And if not, why are so many big name companies getting away with it?


11:40 pm on May 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I'm not a lawyer, but I believe that this area of the law is underdeveloped -- that is, not many explicit laws on the books and little or no clear adjudication on what potentially relevant law there is.

There are a number of lawsuits pending in several countries that may have an affect on this area when they are decided.


11:48 pm on May 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It's not illegal, nor should it be.

All of the commercial AdWare and Spyware that's out there is fully disclosed before you install it. It says in very specific detail what the program does in that little text box called "Software License Agreement" or "Terms of Use". Many people are too stupid to read that - and that's their own mistake. Personally I read every word of every license agreement for every piece of software I install, and when I see something in the license that I don't agree with I simply DON'T INSTALL THE SOFTWARE.

Gator is a perfect example ... I went to download a Divx codec once and I noticed while reading the License agreement that Gator would also be installed, so I opted not to install the codec.

Some people never read the license agreement and then act all surprised or whine that adware/spyware is on their computer ... I mean what else do you want? It's right freaking there in the license agreement, just READ IT.


11:54 pm on May 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


You missed the whole point of my post. I'm not talking about bundled adware with software, or any distribution of adware in which the terms are disclosed and the user has two options: proceed or stop.

I'm talking about distributing adware using exploits. Exploits are errors or loop holes within specific programs such as IE, media player, XP, etc. Companies use these exploits to install adware without your consent or knowledge.

An example would be using a exploit to install and adware system on a users computer simply by loading a few lines of code on the page. In this case there is no TOS, no agreement and the user has NO knowledge something was installed on their computer until they start seeing ads.

So my question is not whether disclosed adware bundles are illegal. It's whether using EXPLOITS to infect adware on PC's is legal.

Does anyone know?


11:59 pm on May 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Ah ok, my mistake :)

To answer your real question then, no there is nothing that makes this SPECIFIC action illegal however it does fall under standard computer intrusion crimes. Presently in the eyes of the law it would be treated the same way as if a hacker placed or removed any other kind of file on your system.

Personally I don't think there SHOULD be any laws specific to AdWare - a crime is being committed because something is being taken from or put on your system without your knowledge. It shouldn't matter what the material is, the law should cover everything.

What companies do you know of that are doing this? You should let everyone know so they know to stay away :)


12:02 am on May 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Let's not go there, please. Accusations of illegal action by a specific company are not allowed here.

What's left to be said that's within our TOS? I'm locking the thread - but if you feel you have an important contribution, let me know.


Featured Threads

Hot Threads This Week

Hot Threads This Month