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Viruses and spywares


Stealing the Internet and destroying it by using non-standard solutions is not the worst matter. The Internet has much more serious threats in viruses, worms and trojans. They cause commonly clear destructions and they can be often easily noticed. Creating them can regard as criminal without exceptions. They violate also the privacy of people.

In addition of home and work computers also for Web servers have been made viruses. The MS IS server supports VBS, which is common used language to create viruses. Supporting that language can make easier to create viruses (but the problem is also bugs in server applications and the problem doesn't concern only server applications of Microsoft). In the Internet should be used limited programming languages (for example Perl), which are much safer. Concerning the functionality of the Internet viruses for Web servers are the worst of all.

There is also spywares, which are not so easy to find. Steve Gibson defines spywares (in the site of OptOut) at the following way (I have emphasized some text):

Spyware is any software which employs a user's Internet connection in the background (the so-called "backchannel") without their knowledge or explicit permission. This gives the possibility of information thefts.
OptOut: Tell Unwelcome Spyware to Pack its Bags!.

According to an e-mail some of them are however very dangerous like WebHancer, broadCast (Broderbunt), Naviant, Onflow and Speedbit (Download Accelerator).

Applications, which are classified as spywares are however usually harmless and I would not regard them as real spywares. Commonly they just transmit information about the user's Web surfing habits back to the software company. It is possible to install these kinds of "spywares" as plug-ins applications to MS IE (the same concerns also browsers, which use the Netscape API like Netscape and Opera). There is really much known or suspected "spyware" applications.

Note 1. The ad-sponsored freewares (adwares) of Opera 5.x have been suspected as spywares. The user can voluntary give information what kind of advertising he wants to receive. At this way the user creates a some kind of advisory "advertising profile". When the user defines advertising Opera sends information to the used server. Opera Software itself doesn't collect any information. Ads come from Cydoor's server and Cydoor monitors who clicks on what so it can profile the user of Opera. I would not call them as spywares, because they don't create any personal profiling to the server and they don't cause any threat to the privacy of the users of the browsers. Opera Software explains the meaning of the advertising banner at the following way (I have emphasized some text):

It will not harm your computer, and it will not collect personal information. It is not designed to track or record your computer use or internet visits.

Opera communicates with the ad service in order to be able to retrieve advertising content. When you install Opera 5, your browser connects to a registration server and receives a unique identifying number. This ID is not personally identifying, and is only used to communicate with the ad-related service as the browser occasionally sends and receives banner-related information. Without being able to set a unique ID to your browser, it would not have been possible to sell ads in Opera.

Some people certainly think that the ID of the browser means personal identification and the ad-preferences very personal profiling. The ID is not however really personal, because the person itself remains anonymous. The ID is a unique anonymous identifier, when and ad-preferences create at some way personal, but however anonymous profiling, which doesn't threat the privacy (in my mind these kinds of profiles should not regard as somehow illegal even if they are not necessary in adware applications). According to an e-mail it doesn't even tell where someone is surfing from.

Surfing with Opera is quite secure and it support newest security protocols. If offers also fine cookie manager (the same kind of system is also in Mozilla Gecko browsers). Opera Software tries to to keep the privacy at high level - indeed the used server can in theory violate the privacy without that Opera Software is aware of it. According to ZDNet there is no evidence stealing of personal data.

Opera Software: Opera's Mission, Privacy, security and advertising in Opera 5.
ZDNet: Aureate Trojan fears unfounded, but ....

Also AOL Time Warner (the distributor of Netscape) has accused spying its customers:

In a suit filed last year against the AOL Time Warner division, customers alleged that SmartDownload allows the company to monitor people's activities after they've downloaded the software, violating federal laws prohibiting electronic surveillance.
ZDNet News: Netscape ruling a boost for privacy By Lisa M. Bowman, July 10, 2001 4:59 AM PT.

Indeed creating an advertising profile is a little bit questionable. When I downloaded Opera 7.0 Beta 1 and Beta 2 I tested my computer with Lavasoft's Ad-Aware 5.0. That application didn't informed any questionable components in Opera but instead it proposed to delete two components, which MS IE and Net2Phone (I got it presumably from some installation of Netscape) had installed.


The case of Opera 5.x arises also wider questions. If Cydoor use profiling to its customers and someone suspects it as a spyware, also other Web servers can regard as spywares. Profiling is a common in the Internet. Also many servers and web sites are ad-sponsored. Many Web servers and Web sites profile their customers by using cookies (in most browsers saving cookies can be disabled). User profiles are in many times also useful for Web surfers.

Especially for small companies advertising is necessary and ad-based money collecting should not regard as such as a somehow criminal. Without being paranoid creators of adwares should not automatic suspect as crooked people, who want to steal someone's private data by collecting such information, which the spied person would not want to give (if he knows, that he has been spied). There is advertising in the Internet at the same reasons as in TV, busses and formula cars - no more noble or worse reasons.

Profiling and advertising must however such, that they don't have criminal features (this concerns all advertising). Profiling in Web servers, Web sites and adware applications is in my mind acceptable at the following conditions (if they are fulfilled, an application is not a spyware):

  1. Private information is not automatic collected, when privacy is guaranteed and the use can stay anonymous (only if the user allows, personal information might be collected, but in my mind it is not in this connection appropriate).
  2. Profiling doesn't tell anything about who you are and where you're surfing from, unless you tell them self. If it needs store some information, the privacy is guaranteed.
  3. The user of the application or other service is aware of profiling.

I would be good that every time the application/ service is used the client gets a dialog or a form. The application/service could however give the possibility not to show it in every session by giving a dialog for example with a question Do not show this dialog again.

In addition we can discuss, what is appropriate advertising and what is not. This matter concerns however only discussion about good taste, not spying. Fulfilling the following requirements is recommendable, but lacking of it doesn't in my mind make an application a spyware:

For a spyware to not be called a spyware anymore, it would need to pop up a window and clearly state or list the exact data and process it is about to perform, each time, it contact's it's home server for content or information reporting. It would also have a button to give the end user the right to refuse and cancel the operation.
SISL (The Spyware Infested Software List): List of Known Spyware Infested Software, Open Letter to Software Developers.

Note 2. I have just given my opinions. It is also remarkable that all applications, which are in some web pages classified as spywares are not real spywares, because the definitions base on the arbitrary opinions of the authors, how they interpret violations of the privacy and spying. For example the list of SISL is quite subjective (because any adware doesn't fulfil requirements of the author, he defines all adwares as some kind of spywares). The list of SISL works only as a base for further discussions. Accusing some company as spying is very hard. Unjustified accusing some company as spying is as bad crime as spying! In my mind some Web-sites are guilty to unjustified estimations and they have too long lists of "spyware" applications. In fact we should have a objective decision from a court, where is defined, what is spying in the Internet and all information technology. Could the W3C organization create necessary rules, which it could recommend to follow? Or does the WWW need an international justice?

Note 3. A piece of code in MS Windows has been once suspected as referring to NSA. Microsoft denied that matter. It said, that it referred to export laws of USA and MS want to ensure, that also other applications could respect them. Because of huge risks it is unbelievable that MS Windows itself is a spyware.

But just export laws of USA (they prevent to export newest high technology) are problematic, because they prevent Americans to build very secure systems. All American companies are forced at least in some level to cooperate with the NSA of USA in order that they don't broke export laws of USA. Because NSA must be able to broke security systems, this means for example that MS Windows must have security holes (this concerns of course all computer applications, which are designed in USA).

If the operating system and the used browser are not depending of the export laws of USA, the system can be build as safe as possible. That's why applications and operating systems, which are totally designed outside the North America and base on open source can in theory be safer than American commercial operating systems. Opera Software is an European company. Opera is also available as in Linux (also many Mozilla Gecko browsers are available as Linux versions) and in Symbian's operating system (EPOC) working versions.

Spying and police organizations

As I have written, networks give the possibility to steal information. The information technology gives also other spying systems as those, which happen through global networks. Spying and police organizations of USA (in addition to NSA CIA and FBI) and corresponding organizations in other countries/ state unions (like EU) are threat to the whole world.

Private data can be packed into small microchips, which can be set into small plastic cards (those are used for example in Finland). Microchips can be set also to the human body. They are used today in medical purposes.


I have heard many years ago and today again about the plan to put into hands or foreheads of people microchips, which contain personal data. Microchips make people like "moving databases" or "moving computers"! Marking people at this way is not a science fiction or. It has been prophesied already in the Bible:

The second beast was allowed to breathe life into the image of the first beast, so that the image could talk and put to death all those who would not worship it.

The beast forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, slave and free, to have a mark placed on their right hands or on their foreheads. No one could buy or sell without this mark, that is, the beast's name or the number that stands for the name.
Revelation 13:15-17 (Good News bible 1992)

Note. The word image is in Greece eikoon (it means also shape). In computer applications is used the word icon, which means an image symbol. The image of the beast can mean also the icon of the beast even if it means more likely moving image, which shows the shape. The word mark can be understood also a carved image.

I have discussed with a person, who have connections to a company, which build security applications (for example virus safe applications). I got the answer, why microchips are designed. The (fake) "aim" is to stop criminals by putting databases into people. Then only those people, who have checked, that they are not criminals, can buy or sell something.

We can think that it is good that national or international spying and police organizations try to stop with microchips ordinary criminals. At certain level control prevents criminal. But if the control is too wide, we get worse criminals - spying organizations and states/ state unions might misuse our private informations! Too tight control can violate the privacy. It means also "soil", which doesn't prevent arising mad leaders but instead "grows" new "Hitlers". Nobody can put USA and other states/ state unions into justice, which makes them dangerous!

According to a rumor at least NSA has enough powerful computers, which they can organize and put into databases all information, what they ever want (microchips are useless without extremely powerful computers, which can handle immerse quantity of information in databases). In addition of powerful processors computers must have good harddisks to store the information. The SPIE-organization and for example Henri H. Arsenault (the university of Laval, Canada) examines possibilities of optical solutions (for example holographic associative memory). Also other alternatives are under construction. Maybe even molecular computers are possible to build. The need of speed and storage can be solved.

Optical solutions: SPIE, Henri H. Arsenault.
Future visions: ComputerAct!ve Columns.

I have read about two possible techniques, how into people could be installed identification techniques:

  1. A digital tattoo (an image or a bar code).
  2. A miniature digital transceiver - which it has named Digital Angel®. This methods allows to use the satellite positioning technique (GPS).
Related pages:
Tattooed Bar Codes Patented - Be Scanned Before All Debit Card Transactions 10-29-99, Applied Digital Solutions.

If people are like moving computers or robots with GPS-system, the control is much worse than in the times of Stalin in Russia or Gestapo was in German.

Microchip systems are still under development. But when they are ready, most people in the whole world are in a great danger taking to their hand the mark of the beast, because behind of all is the devil!

We don't know yet, who is the beast (there is many guesses) or who build necessary software and hardware to microchips. Neither we don't know, what it the logo or icon of the beast. But when we are asked to serve the beast, then we know that the time has gone. We should not to put the mark of the beast in our hands or foreheads and let to steal our privacy and even worse - our souls.

Copyright Tapio Markula 1999-2003, Salo, Finland
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