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Realnetworks is trojaning people...again!!!
From: pedward () WEBCOM COM (pedward () WEBCOM COM)
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000 14:36:25 -0800


Okay, I had a nice long message I wrote, but accidentally canned it in ELM (arggh!)

So, I admit to using windows for 2 reasons:  playing games and viewing content that
can't be viewed on my Unix box.

That brings me to this subject.  I wanted to watch some classic Southpark and
Windows media player wouldn't play it (virgin '98 install), so I got RP 7.0 from
RealNetworks.

I installed it and so on and soforth.  I noticed tonight (3 days later) a program
called "Comet Cursor" installed on my machine.  I recalled a privacy issue with
this and investigated further.  Here's the lowdown from their website for those
who don't remember:

http://www.cometsystems.com/help/privacy.shtml

 What anonymous information is collected about users of the Comet Cursor?
  Our software contacts our servers to record logs of cursor impressions using a GUID (Globally Unique
  IDentifier). When you download the Comet Cursor software, it is issued a GUID from our servers. Using
  this GUID, we can keep track of how many people are using our software. The GUID is also used every
  time the software contacts our servers when we log cursors changing (for example, our software could
  inform our servers that at 12:31pm on November 16, 1999, 143 different people saw their arrow cursor
  change into a baseball bat cursor on a baseball team's Website). Collecting such statistics is an audit
  mechanism we use to bill our clients, since some of them pay us on a "per-cursor-impression" basis.

  Second, our software checks in to see if a new version of the Comet Cursor software is available. If
  there is a bug fix or version upgrade available for the Comet Cursor, the software will retrieve the new
  code and replace the outdated code.

So, the Comet Cursor is really a backdoor to log your viewing habits, etc.

I was fairly confident that I didn't get this 'infection' via unprotected, ahem, viewing
of websites.

I searched the registry and found the Comet Cursor to be a child of the "RealNetworks" root.

I then uninstalled the realnetworks package and comet cursor.  I checked back, the only items
remaining were:

- c:\windows\system\comet.dll -- I deleted this by hand
- A registry entry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Clients\Comet -- The notable thing about this
        entry was the following key->value pair:

                OriginatorId    "Real_Dec99"

So, I uninstalled, reinstalled, uninstalled, and reinstalled to confirm this hypothesis; RealNetworks
is installing a privacy trojan into your system without your permission or documentation.

They have been caught once before doing this.

FYI, the press release is here:

        http://www.cometsystems.com/press/pressrels/102099.shtml

Grr, I am plenty pissed (not in the UK sense of the word, unfortunately) right now...

--Perry

--
Perry Harrington                 Director of                   zelur xuniL  ()
perry () webcom com             System Architecture               Think Blue.  /\



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