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Re: House approves spyware legislation
From: "Bankim J. Tejani" <tejani () alum rpi edu>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2004 10:58:04 -0400

Isn't that kind of like Jiffy Lube mechanics should go around and unscrew the oil pan drain plug from people's to encourage them to change their oil?

I don't think I want anyone to be doing that.

How about making software vendors responsible for the "features" in their software that enable spyware, or buffer overflows, or remote root access? Or encouraging vendors to provide full versions anti-virus and firewall software by default and configured securely by default.

Blaming the users is always easy. But the idea that all users should know about spyware and computer security is ridiculous. They use their computer as a _tool_ for business, fun, or whatever other purposes. It should be our (as in computer scientists, software engineers, IT people, computer security people, etc.) job to make sure they can do that while implicitly and involuntarily maintaining availability, confidentiality, and integrity. Advanced users can always disable it if they want to, so that's not a valid argument against making it default.

Certainly, many tools require maintenance, but that should be clearly described in the user manual that comes with the tool. Witness the maintenance schedule & guide that came in your car's glovebox. There's no reason computers are so special that they needn't follow practices used by other consumer products.

Just my $0.02


On 07 Oct, 2004, at 10:39, Simon wrote:

I work for an ISP as a tech support agent, and some customers often call
because they had spy/ad/malwarez in their computers.

Some of them need the internet to work, and as any business man knows time
is money.  These folks take it very seriously and if they can't access
important information because their browser is not functionning properly (or
as usual) they loose time and money.

This is called sabotage. And there should be charges against saboteurs (I'm not saying it can be done, or that it's possible, just that it is a sort of

Of course, if they are able to browse the internet for a bit, I (the tech guy) can help them so they can download an anti-malwarez such as ad-aware. But sometimes, they have browser hi-jackers and can't browse at all, all they get is "some Super-ultra-search could not be found." all the time. And if that is the case, all I can do is refer them to computer specialists that can reinstall windows and backup their files, charging them 70$ for it and
taking a whole day or more for it!

On the other hand, I am also a hacker, and I finally understood the good in all this. The best thing a virus or a malwarez can do is force the user to go to a computer shop for a complete reinstall and 70$ charge. This way
they learn.  Learning the hard way is not the best way, but it is
efficient. I remember seeing on Symantec.com, a string that was found in a certain virus (beagle??), symantec said the string was never displayed but
was found inside the virus, the string was something like "Love sarah.
Billy gates fix your software". This is an example of very good virus. The worst damage it can do is cost you some time and money. But it does not
Destroy anything.

The best thing we could do is make a petition against ActiveX, to remove that product from the market, that would certainly solve A LOT of troubles!

That was my 2c.


On Wed, 6 Oct 2004 23:18:12 -0400, Bankim J. Tejani wrote
While good in principle, this legislation is hopelessly
unenforceable and is almost certainly just election year politics.
 Somebody knows this and is probably the 1 vote against it.  Think
about it:

Say that this was a law and someone does what you say and changes
your homepage or something similar with some spyware.  Here are
somethings that any prosecutor or civil attorney would have to
consider before pressing charges:

1) How can you prove what the setting was before?  It's one thing
for you to know what it was, but another to prove it in a court of
law.  Otherwise it's your word versus theirs.

2) How can you find out who exactly was the person or company that
took this action?  You're talking about a massive time undertaking
to trace the packet data through every router between you and the accused.

3) Was their machine used by some hacker?  This, unfortunately (or
fortunately, depending on how you see it), has been used in court
and proved to be a successful defense.

4) What was the motive for changing your computer specifically?

5) What type of crime is appropriate?  Is it theft?  trespassing?
moving your plant from your front yard to your back yard?

6) What is an appropriate sentence?  The five minutes you lost
changing it back paid at your current salary?  A fine?   jail time?

I am not a lawyer, but only a little common sense about the law is
needed here.  Some of these issues apply not only to this law, but
all forms of cyber-related law.  Few organizations have successfully
prosecuted under any form of cyber law.  The most notable so far has
been the RIAA, whose cases were never tested in court, but used to
torque people into paying fines rather than facing legal bills that
would bankrupt them.

If we keep passing unenforceable legislation, all we'll end up with
is a tomb of law with hundreds of thousands of lawyers looking
through it and an internet that's just as lawless as it is right
now.  On second thought, keep passing those laws.  <<searching for
LSAT book>>


On 06 Oct, 2004, at 19:09, RandallM wrote:

<|>On Wed, 6 Oct 2004 05:03:45 -0700, Gregory Gilliss
<|><ggilliss () netpublishing com> wrote:
<|>> Great, Not that I'm any fan of spyware, but this is just
<|>another law
<|>> against hacking. Think - what's the difference between this and
<|>> someone using XSS to "take control" of a computer? If you
<|>r00t a box
<|>> and deface the home page, then you've broken this law.
<|>> <sigh> Instead of fixing the problem (poor software
<|>security) we pass
<|>> laws to punish the people who do the things that
<|>illustrate the problem.
<|>> Basic philosophical differences, blah blah blah ...
<|>> Worst of all, do you really think that the spyware rackets
<|>will slow
<|>> down or cease because of this? Nope - they'll just migrate
<|>out of the jurisdiction.
<|>> -- Greg
<|>End of Full-Disclosure Digest

I guess one has to decide if browser hijacking is not the taking of
property. I for one do not fine it amusing to open my browser and it
been redirected to a hijacked page as my new Homepage!
If this law would allow me...the user to bring down hell upon these
then I'm all for it.

Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.
Charter: http://lists.netsys.com/full-disclosure-charter.html

Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.
Charter: http://lists.netsys.com/full-disclosure-charter.html

Simon Lemieux (Simon () Xhz ca)

Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.
Charter: http://lists.netsys.com/full-disclosure-charter.html

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