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Scaramouche

Ax Slinger And/or Cajuntek: Zerospyware Not Bogus

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Hello PC Pitstop community;

 

This will probably not win me friends but I can't seem to get a handle on either party to sort this out so I decided I would post it here.

 

I'm a product manager at FBM Software, makers of ZeroSpyware and ZeroAds. I'm newish to the job, having only been here for two months but I've been pretty interested in spyware and it's removal basically since I stumbled on www.lavasoft.de as a young man quite a long time ago. I figured that part of my new job was to see what the 'hardcore' anti-spyware community thought of our product, so I started hitting some of the major forums and doing some research. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't seem to know we exist :) Even more unfortunately, the product seems to be listed on various 'bogus'/scam lists marking it either as adware itself or some fly by night cash-in on spyware's mind-share. The list I'm specifically referring to here is found at Ax Slinger's reference site, http://pcpitstop.ibforums.com/axslinger/he...files/bogus.htm . I've seen the list in several forms throughout the internet, though the link is always to Ax Slinger's site and the list itself is usually credited to CajunTek.

 

I'm here to assure you that ZeroSpyware is not bogus. We were recently removed from WebHelper's TheWatchersList ( http://www.webhelper4u.com/thewatcherlist.html ) as a suspected scam after I contacted him. I have also e-mailed the venerable Eric L. Howes ( http://www.spywarewarrior.com/rogue_anti-spyware.htm ) to hopefully have us removed from his list. I should point out that we weren't doing anything wrong, and that our inclusion on these lists is basically a mistake (e.g., there was no past wrong-doing that we somehow cleaned up to get off a list).

 

If any of you have any questions about the validity of ZeroSpyware as a spyware removal product please let me know and I will try to refute any assertions publicly, in this thread. In return however, I'd really like it if Ax Slinger removed the ZeroSpyware entry in the list. I know I sound like some sort of spyware pushing crank in this message, but I'm tired of looking at this list every time I try and search for opinions on our product. I'm not a marketing dude but even I know that this doesn't fall under the "there's no such thing as bad publicity" rule.

 

this is the part where I probably won't win any friends

Taken more generally, this list is a good idea that is badly implemented. Ax Slinger; there is no explanation for where you got the list, what criteria went into its creation, or indeed, no way to contact you if someone disagreed with its contents. It also doesn't seem to be researched very vigorously (the thread where it was adopted is here: http://pcpitstop.ibforums.com/index.php?ac...spyware+removal ). The list page itself exists in a limbo, with no index file or context linking to it (indeed, directory browsing is enabled basically everywhere) giving a user no idea of who this Ax Slinger fellow is. There is also no date recording when the list was created, or even last modified.

 

Contrast this with WebHelper's and Eric L. Howes' incredibly useful resources mentioned already, which have maintenance dates logged, list inclusion criteria, contact info for dissenting opinions, even links to the specific data/tests used to determine if a piece of software was judged rogue.

 

I'm sorry if this seems overly critical, but I've been finding this list everywhere, even linked by people trying to peddle bogus spyware tools ( http://www.easiprofitsonline.com/links/spy...er-spyware.html and http://www.fixpad.com/139/removal-spyhunte...er-spyware.html for example). I have no complaint with our company being placed on a suspicious list, in that yeah, some stuff does look funny. Our website is heavy-handed as hell for example (please don't blame me, I'm production not marketing :) . What bothers me is that I find something like this and then have no gauge as to its accuracy, no idea of how recent it is, no concept as to who wrote it, and no immediate way to request a change to it.

 

Again I'm sorry if I sound harsh. We're trying to push through a major upgrade this week and long hours are legion :)

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Hi scaramouche,

 

Welcome to the Pit. :)

 

I cannot speak for Ax nor would I attempt to do so. I did however, d/l a copy of your freeware edition of Zero Spyware.

 

I test programs as a hobby to see if they perform as advertised. I do not alter or modify them in any way. Most are deleted after testing but I do keep the odd one.

 

I have tested programs in the past that were full of adware & spyware & pass the information on about these products. If your product is as you say it is, you have nothing to be concerned about. Having said that, if it does contain anything pertaining to scumware, you will be hearing from me as well as blogs, anywhere I can post.

 

Hawk :beer:

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Guest Deuces Wild

I tried your free system test.

 

1. The program must be installed on your computer for the test to proceed.

 

2. You cannot delete the problem files it finds. It only reports that you have spyware on your computer.

 

3. You cannot uninstall the program using either the uninstall program option or through contol panel uninstall.

 

4. Your test program not only creates folders and files in the program files directory but also in the windows and documents and settings directories. I had to manually delete the directories and files then run a search in my registry to see if there were any traces of your program remaining.

 

:blink::mrsgreen::huh:

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I tried your freeware program "Zero Spyware" as I said I would. Prior to testing it, I ran AdAware & Sypbot S&D. My system was clean. :)

 

Then, I ran Zero Spyware & guess what? It scanned 18,739 files & found 25 bonzaiBuddies, 1 gratisWare & 1 saveNow. I think any reasonable person would question the findings after two of the top freeware adware/spyware programs just missed picking them up. :blink:

 

I did not quarantine or delete as I didn't have a clue what would be quarantined or deleted. If fact, there was even a warning given that by removing these objects, it could have an effect on your system.

 

So in other words Scaramouche, I see it as a typical "Come on" to purchase the upgrade. I think you had better look for different employment as this type of program is despicable. Although I did not find any spyware, I will concur with Ax as a product to avoid.

 

I did get it to uninstall Deuces Wild....few bits of residual had to be deleted manually.

 

Hawk :beer:

Edited by Hawk

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Ad-aware-0

Spybot-0

Bazooka-0

Swat It-1 (C\:Program Files\CpuIdle\Hibernate.dll DLX Downloader) :blink:

X-Cleaner-0

ewido-0

Online:

windowssecurity.com(trojan scan)-0

Pestscan-1 (always gives CWS. GoogleMS.3-Hijacker, which is in Restricted Sites)

 

ZeroSpyware Free Scan says it found 19 spyware applications, 10 spyware components, but when I click to see Scan Results, the list gives 1 trackware-passport.com

So, how confusing is that?

 

 

:beer:

 

by the way, I cleared all but 4 cookies before I tested. passport.com wasn't one that I left in.

Edited by oatman

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After trying the free scan on your website, I would have to say that I think your company is using scare tactics to get you to register for the full version. I run an updated adaware, spybot, and spywareblaster almost everyday. When I ran your free scan it said I had 32 items total to be removed. The results said I had 4 keyloggers, a couple trojans and about 19 trackware programs. I am sorry Sir but I don't think your freescan is legit and would never consider buying your program, I think the posting of your product as bogus is deserved.. You said you would respond to all members questions so here is mine. If your program told me that I had 32 baddies on my computer why then in the results list do you only list tracking cookies and not tell the tester the keylogger or trojans that the screen before listed I had? :blink::huh:

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Edit - A lot of this info has changed because I think I've found the root problem now. You can read this post for history/curiosity's sake, but if you're bored please skip to the next post by me for the actual details.

 

Guys -

 

First of all, thank you. I know you were probably insulted by my posting and the way I posted. It was late and I'd had a hard day trying to track down all the lists that say we're bogus and in retrospect I should have just left out the this won't make me any friends part. I won't edit it out though because, well I wrote it and I think it's kind of cowardly to go round changing what you've said just because it'll #%^*! people off. I will say I'm sorry, and that I went off half-cocked. I have a lot of respect for all of the anti-spyware communities (otherwise I wouldn't be here), and I know you guys are just trying to help other people who are being victmized by unscrupulous marketers and criminal coders. And damn, if it doesn't get frustrating dealing with all that stuff. We're actually targeted/affected by spyware as well, in that some hijackers have been choosing our purchase/download page as one of their blocked sites and I know it bugs the hell out of me too. I say thank you because you are at least willing to give us a chance whereas so many others simply say "omg I read this software is bad you are a spyware vendor!!!1!one".

 

As to the false positives, this is really bad, and I'm taking the info you've already provided away with me to try and figure out why it's happening. We really want to differentiate ourselves from other products and one of the ways is by having a very low false positive count (this gets funny when people say "I ran the spyware nuker program and it found more spyware than your program!" and we can only sigh). Obviously, I'm embarassed but my only defense at this point is that we tested Freescan pretty thoroughly and I've ran it several times myself picking up nothing (including just now).

 

As for the installation profile, I've already harped on the development team for leaving dead soldiers behind. Unfortunately we're right in the middle of a major version change as I already said so it's not seen as a priority. But it will get changed.

 

I'm not going to deny your guys' results because I see no reason why you'd fabricate them. I'm also not going to start foaming at the mouth going "hey leave us alone we're just trying to make software blah blah blah". Instead I'm going to ask you a favour;

 

Please help me change this, and make it better. I know that at this point, it's easy to say "he showed up, insulted us, we tried it, the software sucks" and let that be the end of it. But the things you're reporting are distressing and unexpected and I could really use help nailing them. Basically in my first week here I went to three different people (going from normal developer, to manager of development, to CEO) and asked them "Do we inflate freescan results in order to sell software?" and they all said "No." I know that you have no reason to believe me, but I am seriously asking for your help here, because this is wrong and it shouldn't happen.

 

what follows is the cry for help and requests for specific information

 

All

1. Can you give specific numbers as to what is detected? For example, 19 trackware is showing up quite a lot here and I'd like to know if that's a coincidence. What would be ideal is if you could send screenshots of the summary to chris_atnospam_fbmsoftware.com. If you do please put "PCPitStop" somewhere in the subject field so I know where these are coming from. I personally promise that no mail harvesting/spamming/etc. will occur. Another good alternative would be to post them here if you are unwilling or unable to email.

 

2. Those of you reporting these false positives, do you have any spyware in quarantine in other programs? I've asked the developer if freescan will detect things in other program's quarantine space and he said "no", but I thought I'd check anyway.

 

3. In that vein, do you know if you have ever in the past had any of the spyware that Freescan is detecting? I'm thinking that maybe in the case of a partial removal that we would detect it if some of the key files were still present, but that's a long shot too.

 

4. Are there people here who ran the freescan who didn't get false positives or actually got good results and simply aren't posting?

 

5. If any are willing, we have a 'feature-reduced' client on download.com available at http://www.download.com/3120-20-0.html?qt=...ware&tg=dl-2001 . I'd be curious to see if it has the same result as freescan (which is basically the same search engine with a slightly older database of signature files).

 

 

ocdave67

I don't suppose you are, in your spare time a keylogger developer and tester? I guess that was too much to ask...

When you say it told you that you had 32 baddies are you talking about the real-time counters in the scanning animation screen? And that it disagreed with the summary screen that is displayed after the scan finishes? As to your question, it is also a mystery to me, and one I can hopefully solve.

 

channel 6

I'm currently in contact with the inestimable Eric L. Howes in the hopes of getting removed from his list.

 

oatman

I realize I asked everyone for a screenshot, but in this case I'll repeat it because that sounds very interesting and strange. I'd appreciate it if you could send or provide one, because for something like that I'll need some sort of trace to show the developer.

 

Hawk

Thanks for the info. As I said, these false positives are not a deliberate attempt to create scare marketing, and I want to eliminate them as soon as possible. Again, I know you guys have no reason to believe me but I'm just as aghast as you at these results.

 

Dueces Wild

I mentioned it above but yeah, the uninstall traces are there and they are messy, and there's no reason for them to be there. I hope to get this fixed after the next development cycle. I also hope to have find/remove functionality added in that revision as well.

 

Once again, thanks. I hope you guys are willing to help me out here because I'm not willing to let these false positives stand as they are.

Edited by Scaramouche

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Okay, this should be short and sweet. We've found a problem in the freescan; a BIG problem. The reason you're getting 19 all the time is because for some reason there is a placeholder UI screen where the report should be (The 19/10 numbers). If you look at the other numbers they don't even add up. What were they thinking?

 

I will say again, this wasn't deliberate but it definitely makes us look like a great big bunch of chumps. This fiasco is mostly my fault for not testing a product that was created before I started working here (started two months ago), assuming that there were no problems with it. Finding this out is like getting punched in the gut; this thing is out there with our name on it and it's wrong.

 

I will say again though, thank you. Finding this out was horrible, but the fact that I can stop it now is a great relief to me. We're fixing this right now (apparently a fix happened that everyone thought was published but was never published). I hope to have an update for you guys later today (though most of you are asleep because we are 12 hours different timezone-wise).

Edited by Scaramouche

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well I can certainly see why the program has been listed as suspect in the above mentioned lists

 

Posted Image

 

 

the items that were actually listed as spyware were:

 

WhenU - c:\windows\system32\ssubtmr6.dll

Desktop Surveillance - c:\Program Files\Aladdin Systems\StuffIt Deluxe 8.0.1\XT1931Lib.dll

 

 

neither of these .dll files are spyware, they might have been used by a spyware/adware programmer, but they shouldn't be classified as 'bad'

 

ssubtmr6.dll - http://www.vbaccelerator.com/codelib/ssubtmr/ssubtmr.htm

 

XT1931Lib.dll - http://www.codejock.com/products/toolkit/

 

 

BTW, the ssubtmr6.dll on my pc was installed by AutoPatcherXP

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radio

Thanks for pointing that out, I'll forward it to the database/key file team. I realize that you guys are finding these things wrong and thinking to yourself "ha, I was right it's nothing but a lie!" but really, I want to take these comments and improve things. I'm guessing either/both files were implicated in another infection and then got tarred with the spyware brush. But really, thanks both for the feedback and the details, which will make it much easier for our guys to change it.

 

freescan egregious error update

We fixed the placeholder screen and put it up on the site. I'd appreciate it if any of you willing to do so please try again in similar situations and see what it reports, and also see if the screen itself reports true now. I did some revision control sniffing and found that this problem was introduced in the last version we released, and not (thank goodness), when we first introduced freescan. After tonight (about 8am Thursday morning PST) we should also have updated the signature files in the database, as right now they're aged by about a month.

 

However, even with that change I'm sure the majority of you will not be happy with the product, because the language is still quite strong ("spyware on your system blah blah blah").

 

I'll be blunt; I really don't like our marketing either. I'm a forum dwelling nerd who has strong feelings about fear-mongering myself. Unfortunately though, I can't change it, it's set above my head, by another department I have no influence in. I have bothered the ceo, the marketing manager, and the design manager about it but have been unable to enact any change on it. For now, I'm simply trying to get the product in as good a shape as I can and hopefully convince people in the know that it is a good product despite the marketing, which is in part why I'm here.

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Product promotion and marketing?! :huh:

 

However, even with that change I'm sure the majority of you will not be happy with the product, because the language is still quite strong ("spyware on your system blah blah blah").

 

I'll be blunt; I really don't like our marketing either. I'm a forum dwelling nerd who has strong feelings about fear-mongering myself. Unfortunately though, I can't change it, it's set above my head, by another department I have no influence in. I have bothered the ceo, the marketing manager, and the design manager about it but have been unable to enact any change on it. For now, I'm simply trying to get the product in as good a shape as I can and hopefully convince people in the know that it is a good product despite the marketing, which is in part why I'm here.

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Product promotion and marketing?!  :huh:

 

 

I don't mean to say I'm here to flog the software, "rah rah rah" buy this etc. I'm just trying to improve the software so it's seen as a valid spyware remover instead of the 'scam' or 'bogus' label that it currently has. This is more a matter of trying to get the name out of the mud than it is trying to win converts. I know you guys will never buy the software, simply because there are very good free (or donation-ware) alternatives available. And rightly so, because the Ad-Aware and Spybot guys do good work and deserve all the support they can get.

Edited by Scaramouche

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However, even with that change I'm sure the majority of you will not be happy with the product, because the language is still quite strong ("spyware on your system blah blah blah").

I won't be testing it for you. You know what's wrong with the product. Let us know when you've addressed the problems and I'm sure we'll use it and recommend it. Most of the freeware programmes we use here also have advanced features which many members are happy to pay for.

 

:beer:

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Not even able to download the program, its always asking for a username and password...even for the online scan and the cnet download.

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I won't be testing it for you. You know what's wrong with the product. Let us know when you've addressed the problems and I'm sure we'll use it and recommend it. Most of the freeware programmes we use here also have advanced features which many members are happy to pay for.

 

:beer:

The original point of my post was to try and revoke the program's 'bogus' status on the list Ax-Slinger maintains on his/her website. Finding these bugs has helped the product immeasurably, but I'm not turning this into the Zerospyware support and bug reporting forum. I have communicated our willingness to change certain things, and we have changed certain things. More changes are on the way. Unfortunately, I can't change the marketing copy which many find objectionable. I can present your guys' problems with it, but to be truthful it probably will have no result.

 

Unfortunately I have no idea whether the list in question will change or not, because:

A)It has no criteria for inclusion (as do WebHelper's and Eric L. Howes)

B)It has no means of contacting the author (see above)

C)It has no creation date or modification date, meaning there's no way to tell how recent the list, or if any of the vendors mentioned have changed or were put there by mistake (also see above)

 

I realize the purpose of said list isn't to 'gotcha' bad anti-spyware removal producers. It's intended as a resource for people who don't know much about the products and this market; something simple to protect them from getting a bad product.

 

In my original post I said "If any of you have any questions about the validity of ZeroSpyware as a spyware removal product please let me know and I will try to refute any assertions publicly, in this thread. In return however, I'd really like it if Ax Slinger removed the ZeroSpyware entry in the list."

 

My original request is still valid I think. The question is, are the changes made thus far enough to be removed from the list? Unfortunately, we don't know, because the maintainer of the list hasn't presented themselves and there also are no criteria for being on the list. If the changes are not enough, I guess I'll have to give up now and say thanks for the help with those bugs. Put another way, I have no intrinsic 'right' to be considered fairly or unfairly because in the end, it's just a list on some guy's webspace.

 

I will say though that if you maintain this sort of reference and it's being used by a large amount of people (as this one is) it's kind of irresponsible to not pay any attention to it. I could make a list of "Bogus anti-spyware forums, using these may do more harm than good!" and I could put a bunch of things on there, leave no email address for people to contact me, host it somewhere so it's not easy to find me, and leave no way for the listed anti-spyware forums to know what they'd done to get on the list. I mean, hey, it's just the internet right?

 

I'm not making internet tough guy threats or anything. I'm just saying that doing this sort of thing doesn't seem to jive with the level of responsibility everyone here displays when it comes to providing accurate information on HJT! logs, or categorizing new spyware threats.

 

Since Ax-Slinger him/herself hasn't appeared though the entire effort has been for naught anyway, excepting the large and atrocious bug found (which has now been fixed). All of this drama could have been avoided if I'd just been able to get into direct contact with him/her.

 

So I'll say again, thanks for the input everyone. I'll continue to visit, (even if I'm "despicable" :) because I think it's a good community that provides good information, despite this misunderstanding. If Ax-Slinger is reading, or has been reading all along, please indicate to me what constitutes inclusion on the list and I'll see what further I can do. If anyone else has any complaints or concerns with ZeroSpyware please PM or email me and I'll try to fix what I can (chris _iscurrentlyat_ fbmsoftware.com ). Once again, emails will be confidential and your address will not be used for any nefarious purpose.

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Not even able to download the program, its always asking for a username and password...even for the online scan and the cnet download.

Sorry for the double post but I wanted to separate this out.

 

Our colocation host decided to start securing themselves like crazy a few minutes ago because they found some intrusion attempts in their logs from last weekend. We knew they were going to be doing something but we didn't realize it would be this. Sorry for any inconvenience; we're on the phone with them as I speak.

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Scaramouche, I would like to let you know that we at the Pit appreciate your attempt to better your company's software. I don't use it and don't plan to, but that really isn't my point in posting this.

 

This forum is currently undergoing upgrades of its own, and Ax Slinger is responsible for most of the coding and moderations of said upgrades. I'm sure when he has the time, he will personally address your concerns.

 

I'm not his secretary, and can't speak for him, nor would I try. But rest assured, he is not in the habit of ignoring people or their concerns. He is only one man, and as such, has a finite amount of time to deal with everything.

 

That being said, welcome to the Pit. Take off your shoes, and make yourself comfortable. :)

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I went to your site and scanned my pc - it found 35 Weatherbug entries..

Before I scanned at your site I also scanned with Spybot and Ad-Aware and the results were clean...they dont label AWS Weatherbug as spyware.

Why? Maybe because AWS Weatherbug is not spyware...

You should go and research that program before identifying it as spyware in your utility.

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Guest MGP

I'll be blunt; I really don't like our marketing either. I'm a forum dwelling nerd who has strong feelings about fear-mongering myself. Unfortunately though, I can't change it, it's set above my head, by another department I have no influence in. I have bothered the ceo, the marketing manager, and the design manager about it but have been unable to enact any change on it. For now, I'm simply trying to get the product in as good a shape as I can and hopefully convince people in the know that it is a good product despite the marketing, which is in part why I'm here.

Well Scaramouche, much like the saying "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link", I'd have to say the same goes for "integrity". While I'm sure many people respect the fact that you've come and put a virtual face on the product, it doesn't change the fact that the Marketing team is still using the fear-mongering and "hard sell" tactics. That, in my opinion, might be just the type of characteristic that keeps your product on those "rogue" lists long after you've corrected any and all defects.

 

Good luck,

MGP

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it doesn't change the fact that the Marketing team is still using the fear-mongering and "hard sell" tactics. That, in my opinion, might be just the type of characteristic that keeps your product on those "rogue" lists long after you've corrected any and all defects.

 

Well said, my thoughts entirely

 

and :welcome:

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I went to your site and scanned my pc - it found 35 Weatherbug entries..

Before I scanned at your site I also scanned with Spybot and Ad-Aware and the results were clean...they dont label AWS Weatherbug as spyware.

Why? Maybe because AWS Weatherbug is not spyware...

You should go and research that program before identifying it as spyware in your utility.

I'll report this to the db team. Sorry for the delay, we had a lot of flack to deal with when our colocation host decided to get all rambo on security. Thanks for the info by the way.

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Guest MGP

Well said, my thoughts entirely

 

and  :welcome:

"Ankyouuu ankyouverrrrmuch" he said in his best Elvis. :banana: "Pass the peanut butter." :mrgreen:

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