Privacy Scams

Privacy Scams As you’ll see from the other articles in this section, there are genuine threats to your privacy on the Internet and your own PC. However, there are also many scammers that try to worry you about things that are usually not threats, often through alarmist ads that look like they are system warnings. …

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PC Pitstop Privacy Center

Protecting your personal information and privacy on the Internet can be a major challenge. To use the Internet effectively for shopping, banking, and communication, you will need to give out personal and financial information at times. How do you know when it’s safe to give out information, and how can you protect yourself from that …

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January 2005 Newsletter

More Information on Safe Surfing
PC Pitstop Test Enhancements
Top Dawg Challenge Winners
Is AMD Cleaning Intel’s clock?
Join the PC Pitstop Folding or SETI Team

And the Winners Are…

We would like to thank everyone for participating in the January 2005 Top Dawg Challenge. And also special thanks to our sponsor, BFG Technologies. Without further ado, here are the winners:

Are Your Children Safe from Spyware?

If you have kids, then the computer they use — which may also be the computer you use — is vulnerable to infestation by spyware. Spyware preys on the behavior of children, and teens in particular, by parking itself in the programs they download and on the sites they visit. Peer-to-peer music-swapping software, free online games, screen savers, song-lyrics sites are prime destinations for kids and many of them can carry an unwanted payload that can melt down a machine. But by teaching your kids appropriate behaviors and habits, and using some protective software, you can go a long way toward preventing spyware from gaining a foothold on your system.

November 2004 Newsletter

XP Service Pack 2 Rolls On
Keep Kids Safe from Spyware
Spyware bills die; FTC says “good riddance”
Top 25 Spyware and Adware
Join the PC Pitstop Folding or SETI Team

October 2004 Newsletter

PC Pitstop Optimize – Our First Product
New Home for “The Pit”
What’s That Running Program? We Know!
The PC Pitstop Site Gets A New Look
Windows XP Service Pack 2: Do it Now!
Dell Recalls Millions of Power Supplies
Join the PC Pitstop Folding or SETI Team

Follow the Money

When Dave and I were at the Spyware Conference in Washington DC, we were approached by Avi Nader, CEO of WhenU. Avi was upset because we were passing our WhenU research to various reporters at the conference. Avi cornered Dave and me and asked, “Why are you picking on us? Why don’t you focus on the guys doing identity theft, and other horrible deeds?” I have had a lot of time to think about this question and my answer. Avi, if you’re listening, here is my response.

The Death SPYral – Yahoo/Google/Microsoft

The entire spyware issue continues to escalate. Going from bad to worse. Unlike viruses, spyware is becoming about making money, and we are seeing that some of the largest and most trusted names on the internet are doing business with spyware companies. That’s right, names like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are profiting by spreading and endorsing spyware. Let’s take a step back. PC Pitstop research has found more and more software being installed on user’s computer without their knowledge. But the problem doesn’t end there! Once the user realizes that some unknown software program is potentially impacting their PC’s performance and reliability, what do most people do? They research their problem using a search engine such as Yahoo or Google.

Search Our Known-Programs Database

PC Pitstop collects and analyzes information about running programs during our full system tune-up process. This lets us spot emerging trends in new viruses and spyware, and it also helps us to identify benign-but-unneeded programs that many systems are running.

July 2004 Newsletter

PC Pitstop Test and Score Changes
Who’s Funding Claria/Gator? Yahoo!
Spyware Strikes Out with Major League Baseball
Windows XP Hits 70 Percent Mark
Beware of Fake Anti-Spyware Products
Be a PC Pitstop Beta Tester
Join the PC Pitstop Folding or SETI Team

Yahoo – On the Dark Side

There was a time that Darth Vader was one with the force, but alas, he went to the dark side. And there was a time that Yahoo was the brightest star in the Internet constellation. My browser favorites are chock full of Yahoo sites, including Yahoo Maps and Yahoo Yellow Pages. My home page is My Yahoo, and I save all of my contacts in the Yahoo address book so I can access them from both my PC and my cell phone. There may be better solutions out there, but in almost all cases Yahoo was the first.

Yahoo and Claria

When Yahoo acquired Overture in September 2003, it may have bought itself a load of trouble.

Prior to the Yahoo acquisition, Overture had cut a deal with Gator (which has since changed its name to Claria Corporation) to display Overture pay-per-click advertising to users of the Gator Advertising Information Network (GAIN). As we’ve noted in earlier investigations, this deal took many Overture customers by surprise. When we contacted some Overture advertisers in September 2003, several were unaware that their ads were now being shown to Gator users and one indicated to us that they had discontinued their Overture advertising as a result.

Our Gator Experiences

What is it like to be a Gator user? We get plenty of reports in our forums, but we decided to get first-hand information by installing GAIN software on our own systems. We also wanted to find out if there are any good things about GAIN ads–do they have the potential to help users find great deals on products and services? The results weren’t pretty. Rob’s system became very unstable almost immediately. Dave didn’t have system instability, but received many GAIN ads that were anything but targeted.

How Did I Get Gator?

Our survey found that an astounding 74 percent of Gator users did not know that a Gator or GAIN application had been installed on their system, and an additional 15 percent had not read Gator’s license agreement. Compare those results to Gator’s assertion that users are “inviting” Gator onto their PC’s. We decided to take a look at several ways in which Gator gets “invited” onto a PC, and whether the process may be confusing users into making an uninformed choice.

Claria Goes Public

Claria Corporation (formerly Gator Corporation) has filed an S-1 statement, the first step in the United States for an initial public offering (IPO) of stock. The S-1 is a very useful document because it requires the company to be very clear and honest about its business prospects. Potential investors use the S-1 to determine whether to buy stock, and to determine a fair price for that stock.

May 2004 Newsletter

Special Report: The FTC Spyware Workshop
Continued Attacks Against Anti-Spyware Sites
Inadequate Disclosure by Claria/Gator and WhenU
Where’s Your Newsletter?
Solve Your PC Problems At The Pit

Gator Alternatives

Are you using a Gator or GAIN-supported application and would like to keep its functionality but dump the popup ads, excessive memory use, and data collection? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve researched a collection of free or low-cost programs that are superior to Gator’s. For each Gator application below, you’ll see our picks for programs that offer similar functionality.