Greynets Research: April 2006 Archives

While Googling for downloading Hijackthis, i spotted a link from Google's Adsense program. Check out the following screenshot:


Click Image to enlarge

(Note the Red X is part of the SiteAdvisor program which can help users spot sites that use deceptive practices and is only displayed if you using the program.)

In above screenshot clicking the link ?HijackThis Free download? opens a site http://hijack-thisnet/. Naturally curiosity compelled me to dig deeper into this site and also I wanted to know what Merijn, the original creator of HJT had to about this site? It appears it struck his radar a long time ago and was not pleased the name of his product was being used to push other commercial products.

He states from http://www.merijn.org/

" April 22, 2005:
Just a short note on the domain HIJACK-THIS.NET: this is not mine! It has been registered by an affiliate of XoftSpy (who are also on the Rogue Antispyware List on SpywareWarrior.com) and they are luring people into downloading their software believing it is HijackThis. Also, they have registered a few AdWords at Google leading to the same result. We'll see where this goes. In the meantime, if you want to download any of my programs, the official domain is and always will be www.merijn.org."

UPDATE: April 29, 2005:
I just received word from Paretologic (the ownsers XoftSpy) that the affiliate responsible for the page has been terminated and the site will be taken down. That's one down, one to go. :) "

Let's dig into this mystery...

It appears this fellow isn't the only one tired of getting lots of "useful addons" on his new PC from Dell. Rather than ship a virgin system, Dell has money making deals to include certain forms of adware or sponsored search engines and they pocket the change.

This, in theory, is ok, depending on what the Dell EULA states, but what about users who do not want all of the extraneous stuff, trial installations and other unwanted programs? This person took matters into his own hands by by creating and running a very simple file.

Enter in the Dell Decrappifier, a script, that hopefully returns your PC back to its pristine state before all the marketing deals take over your coveted resources.

From their website:


It's a sad state of affairs when you buy a new computer these days and it comes pre-loaded with a ton of garbage software that brings your new machine to a crawl. If anyone's bought a Dell PC in the last few years, you probably know what I'm talking about. Just recently, I was helping a friend set up his brand new Inspiron 1300 and it took FOREVER for it to boot up. It's a very dissatifiying experience to pull a brand new computer out of the box and be spammed with a bunch of trial software. After removing all of the crap, (wich took a significant amount of time) it booted much faster and performed like it should. I kept thinking it would be nice to have an automated way to remove all this stuff. Thus was born the Dell De-Crapifier script.

Now, to be fair, I know most all of the major PC manufacturers have similar practices of installing trialware. I would suspect they don't make any profit on the hardware (or even a loss) and they make their money on the kickbacks from the software companies. I don't know.

Anyway, I wrote the Dell De-Crapifier using a great little scripting tool called AutoIT. You can use it to automate pretty much anything in Windows. There is also a cool editor called SciTE that gives you all the tools you need to put together a script. The best thing about this whole system is that you can generate stand alone executables that don't require a runtime.


dell-decrapifier-screenshot.jpg

Visit the Dell Decrappifier to see it in action. Read *carefully* before you download the file and use!

I am really ready to start tackling EULAs, so to kick things off I am revisiting a piece I did on the TinkoPal EULA months ago. Take a close look as I highlight some of the language and conditions you would accept in this EULA. For added value my comments will be in bold text surrounded by parentheses and are not a part of the EULA.

TinkoPal EULA Page: http://www.tinkopal.com/terms.html
Note: The original EULA is longer valid at this URL.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Greynets Research category from April 2006.

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