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Old May 26th, 2001
Vinnie Vinnie is offline
BearShare Developer
Join Date: May 25th, 2001
Posts: 163
Vinnie is flying high
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>I posted this message under another
>discussion, but I want to
>make sure someone sees it.

I see it, I'll do the best I can to help you understand what's going on.

>I'm confused about spyware and
>what it does and how
>to get rid of it.

"Spyware" is software which is usually sneaked onto your computer by another program. These programs collect information about you and send them to a company.

What kind of information? Why is it collected?

Usually, these programs collect information that would be useful for advertising. For example, if you had a lot of games on your computer, an advertiser might show you a banner for a gaming related product like a joystick or something like that.

If you have programs like Word and Excel, then a game banner would not be appropriate and you might get an advertisement for something business related.

This information is valuable, because it helps advertisers waste less money by getting their message to the right people.

For example, if you are a woman, you are probably not interested in seeing ads for adult content or Viagra.

>When I downloaded and installed, I
>chose only to install Bearshare
>and none of the others.
>This is my work computer,
>so I can't put too
>much extra stuff on it
>without getting noticed.

The other products you are talking about are "Onflow", "", and "SaveNow". A description of each:

Onflow is designed basically to let advertisers create very attractive banners and interstitials (popups) that have animation. These ads can also be animated. Onflow only DOES something if you visit a site that has Onflow content (for example, in the Gallery). One of the cool features is that the ads are EXTREMELY small to download, since the Onflow player (installed on your computer) has special functions built into it that let it do rich graphics. Some users object to Onflow, because it sends a report of banner activity to their web site periodically. The report includes the number of times you saw an ad, how many times you clicked, and how long you saw the advertisement. This information is extremely useful, and increases the value of the advertisements. is a plug-in that lets you resolve new "top level domains". The existing top level domains (.com, .net, .org, etc...) are all controlled by one organization called ICANN. Recently, they have expanded the number of top level domains to include seven new ones. However, many companies are disappointed with their choices and there were a lot of politics involved., a product of IdeaLab, offers their own alternate domans like .mp3 and .shop for example. Since their domains are not "officially approved", some extra software is required in order to use their service. Some users object to, because they believe it is spyware, however there is no evidence that sends any information about you.

SaveNow is an "offer companion" program which runs in the background and periodically shows you a popup window while you surf the web that is relevant to the site you are visiting. For example, if you visit you might see a popup with a coupon for 30% off your next purchase at (a site that offers quality used CDs for less). SaveNow must periodically contact its server in order to download an updated list of new offers. Some users object to SaveNow because they believe that it "spies" on you by sending information during this communication. However, there has been extensive analysis of SaveNow communication and it has been proven it does no such thing. In fact, the company which produces the product,, has taken steps to make sure that the communication is done in plain clear text. The SaveNow program "targets" the popup windows by analyzing the web site you visit (based on the URL), without sending or storing any of this information.

>When I
>found out that Bearshare has
>spyware attached, I tried to
>read up on it, but
>I don't know that much
>when it comes to technical
>computer jargon.

This is completely understandable. A lot of people have critized BearShare, and used this forum to spread lies and misinformation.

BearShare does not have "spyware attached". It comes with three additional products from different companies which offer an optional installation. These products were selected because they protect your privacy and offer useful functions (like saving you money when you shop).

If you want to do some reading, try looking up "Gator", "Webhancer", "Flyswat", and "Comet cursor".

These are TRUE SPYWARE programs. In their privacy statement, they basically tell you that they are going to collect as much information as possible, and then sell it to third parties.

BearShare is free - it is supported through advertising and our relationships with third party companies. Free Peers, Inc. has been very selective with the companies it chooses to do business with, and any sane rational person who takes the time to truly research these products, as well as the other true spyware products I mentioned, would see a huge difference.

>I got confused
>when reading all the info
>about what it does. I
>did decide that I would
>download Ad-Aware so that none
>of my information would be
>shared with anyone- once again
>it's a WORK computer and
>I don't need to be
>transmitting WORK info out there.

This is a misconception - the "information" which is valuable to advertisers has nothing to do with your "work information". Work information is things like reports, charts, spreadsheets, etc...

I do not know of any programs that collect that type of information, it is simply not valuable and could also be considered illegal.

The "information" which is of value is things related to your surfing habits, your personal preferences, and your demographic information.

For example, a teenager would probably not be interested in anti-wrinkle cream.

>When I ran it, sure
>enough, there are 3 spyware
>cookies that come up for
>me to delete. I opted
>out of the bundled software,
>but I still get them.
>If we have a choice,
>then why do I have
>spyware on my computer?

First of all, cookies are technically not 'spyware'. Second, these cookies were not introduced by BearShare, or any of the bundled products.

You got these cookies when you surfed the Internet and saw ad banners.

>What really bothers me, though, is
>that I have to delete
>the files all the time.
>They keep reappearing. What is
>going on?? Why can't I
>just get rid of them?

In order to eliminate cookies, you have to turn cookies off in the browser. Surfing the Internet without cookies is NOT fun! You will have to re-enter your passwords and information on any sites that you visit with a login, like Yahoo!, or

Once again let me point out that neither BearShare nor any of the other bundled products included with BearShare use cookies.

>If anyone has some info about
>what kind of info I
>am transmitting out of here
>(in plain English!), I'd really
>like to know more about
>this program.

>For instance, I've
>read some posts about how
>all this illegle porn is
>available for download on Bearshare.
>If someone is getting all
>the info on our computers,
>can't they tell who is
>downloading that stuff?

This is a misconception. There is no existing program that "gets all the info on our computers". Its not like someone presses a button and POW your entire computer is transmitted over the Internet!

Another misconception, is that you need to install spyware to see who is downloading pornography.

This is not true. If someone wanted to, they could set up a server that offered files with pornographic names, and keep a log of who came to download them.

In fact, this is exactly what did with their "wall of shame", in an attempt to expose the extent to which child pornography has invaded the Internet.

Unless you are very technical and use anonymous proxies, along with special software, there is no way to prevent a web site from knowing your IP ADDRESS when you visit. This is how the Internet works (more specifically, this is how TCP/IP, the fundamental communication protocol, works).

>Seems like
>a good way to catch
>child porn people to me.
>I've read the "busted" comments
>too- how are people getting
>tracked down for downloading or
>sharing copywrited files? How does
>that work?

It works like this: a company passively listens in on the Gnutella network and makes a note of files they believe are copyrighted, along with the IP ADDRESS of the user sharing the file. Then, they attempt to download the file and see if it contains infringing content.

If it does, they make a note of the time and day that IP ADDRESS was connected to the Internet. Using public resources and websites, they find out the Internet Service Provider (ISP) which owns the IP ADDRESS, and submit a request with the address and the time and date. The ISP usually keeps a log of who was connected at what time, and what IP ADDRESS they had.

This way, they can correlate an IP ADDRESS with an actual user's billing information and therefore identity.

>I'd basically like to know what
>Spyware is capable of, and
>what it is used for
>on Bearshare.

BearShare is not spyware, does not use spyware, and does not transmit nor collect personal information about you.

By the way, thanks for coming out and asking the tough questions, but in a nice way. You are a good example of how users should behave in the forum when they have questions, comments, or desire more information.

You are always welcome here.
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