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Weird extensions invasion at Mozilla Add-ons!

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thyristor

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Post Posted August 13th, 2006, 2:32 am

hey
I was looking for an extension that could work with hotmail so i searched "hotmail" in the Add-ons site.
And dozens of extensions came up, all with more or less the same description:

-------------------------
Our toolbar is:

* 100% Free
* No spyware, absolutely safe, look below.
* IE Version also available
* Listen to the Radio from our channels
* Google Search
* Privacy button Includes Cookie Cleaner, history cleaner, cache cleaner & Online virus scanners.
* A useful E-mail notifier, supporting POP-3 E-mail, Yahoo!, Gmail and Hotmail E-mail accounts.
* A useful weather component which is capable of showing weather locally and globally. It features a 3 day forcast along with current weather.

[Language: Default is English]
*Please note: The E-mail Notifier Toolbar collects anonymous usage data but it DOES NOT spy on your browsing habits.
--------------------------

All extensions have "toolbar" on it's name:

Online Games Toolbar 1.0.1.20
Mojabosna Toolbar 1.0.1.20
Cengoo.de Toolbar 1.0.1.18
Radio DE Toolbar 1.0.1.20
Torrent Search 1.0.1.20
Israel Radio Toolbar (Hebrew Version) 1.0.1.17
Israel Radio Toolbar 1.0.1.17
Bibirmer Toolbar 1.0.1.20
Telliss Toolbar 1.0.1.20
myMatchDates Toolbar 1.0.1.20
myDirtyDates Toolbar 1.0.1.20
myCampusDates Toolbar 1.0.1.20
CaresforKids Toolbar 1.0.1.20
myVegasBets Toolbar 1.0.1.20
Tbtoyl Toolbar 1.0.1.20
Radio Russia 1.0.1.20
EMail_Notifier Toolbar 1.0.1.20
ServMap Toolbar 1.0.1.20
serjudio.com Toolbar 1.0.1.19
Movie Toolbar 1.0.1.18
CGToolbar 1.0.1.18
Radio Nederland 1.0.1.17
profadi Toolbar 1.0.1.18
Nifty Gifts Toolbar 1.0.1.18
MikeAndPetra Toolbar 1.0.1.18
HotWildMisty Toolbar 1.0.1.18
marvz14 Toolbar 1.0.1.18
Ynet News RSS (Hebrew Version) 1.0.1.17
Ynet RSS English 1.0.1.17
Holy Land Radio 1.0.1.17


This is so obviously spyware! why does Mozilla.org lets them even exist in their page?
Maybe this has been discussed here, or it's the wrong place to post. But obviously nothing is being done yet. Or at least not enough, because it's still there and each toolbar has been downloaded hundreds of times. It's a scam and someone is making big money on this at the expense of Mozilla.org

Thumper

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Post Posted August 13th, 2006, 5:59 am

Theoretically every one of them has undergone code review, so they aren't malicious. You'd need to email the addons staff to check.

- Chris

thyristor

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Post Posted August 13th, 2006, 7:05 am

I'm not saying it's "malicious", but if I wanted my anonymous usage data to be collected and sent over the internet to some unknown company (like the author admits) then i would use Internet Explorer and go to a malicious site...
The extensions are about almost all the same, with some nuances. Just like spam mail.
And you don't need to be a genious to know that this is a creepy scheme to make money. It's against all the security features that Firefox has over IE.
So what's the point with these extensions? The authors are all different, homepages are different, but in the end they all do the same and the same company is behind all of them. There's something fishy here and we all know the reason, money! These extensions are to make money with users data. Do we really need that in the Firefox comunity?

Thumper

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Post Posted August 13th, 2006, 7:12 am

You'd need to email the addons staff


The MozillaZine forums are not an official extension of the Mozilla Corporation. I agree with you, but that's not going to change anything.

- Chris

dk70
 
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Post Posted August 13th, 2006, 8:35 am

User stats or not I think main problem is there is zero coding/support/whatever involved, toolbar is in most cases 100% result of picking and clicking from an online toolbar generator http://www.effectivebrand.com/ Actually brilliant idea and quite nice set of features, multi-level links for example. Try it, wont hurt you or browser.

They collect stats from searching though I think company has a few "slips" in history. Check their forum and Google. No reason to thrash them just because they care for your searching. Have to take down a few others then, like Google! Earn 5000$ if you know better... http://www.effectivebrand.com/CertifiedSpywareFree.aspx

http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=448745 they are all over the place ;) And you see Addon sites requirements for these things. Well if you make use of some of the advanced sections of toolbar building may be there are fingerprints of personal effort but most of these should not be called extensions or be on Addon site. Effectivebrand could make 1 submission about generator, they already have gallery of toolbars for download on their site http://www.effectivebrand.com/ToolbarExamples.aspx Addon site just helping them, in theory they would accept 120000 toolbars today, heh - as long as "authors" remember to state conditions of use.

the-edmeister

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Post Posted August 13th, 2006, 9:50 am

All those Effective Brand toolbars were pulled off AddonsMozilla.Org earlier this year over their data collection issues, over the course of a few weeks some type of agreement was worked out whereby Effective modified something.

I agree that 1 link to the EB generator webpage might be the correct way to list all those bars.


Ed
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James
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Post Posted August 13th, 2006, 2:40 pm

the-edmeister wrote:All those Effective Brand toolbars were pulled off AddonsMozilla.Org earlier this year over their data collection issues, over the course of a few weeks some type of agreement was worked out whereby Effective modified something.

I agree that 1 link to the EB generator webpage might be the correct way to list all those bars.


Ed

Yep.. Bug#326579 - "At least one 'effectivebrand' toolbar on AMO - fetches remote dynamic js"

and now we have a bit of a invasion of Effective Brand toolbars on a.m.o

Frank Lion

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Post Posted August 13th, 2006, 2:43 pm

James wrote:...and now we have a bit of a invasion of Effective Brand toolbars on a.m.o

I'll speak to MM at amo about this. Not good, I reckon.
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rtmjr50

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Post Posted August 13th, 2006, 3:53 pm

Thumper wrote:Theoretically every one of them has undergone code review, so they aren't malicious. You'd need to email the addons staff to check.

- Chris


That a joke .... "email a addon staff" .... can some tell me were this info is located on the addon site?

What exactly does reviewed by the addon staff mean? .... show me any location on the addon site that tell you why downloading from the addon site is "safer" than some other location.

What steps are taken before a extension or theme is allowed on the addon site. More importantly, what steps are taken when a author uploads a new version of the original extension that was "reviewed" by the addon staff?

as to "Effective Brand toolbars " ... why is there NO warning label added to the listing explaining to the user what downloading and installing this extension means - (by using this extension, the creator of the software that was used to created this extension may or may not be collecting data from your use of this extension)

later, Richard
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Thumper

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Post Posted August 13th, 2006, 4:31 pm

You're helping so much by whining at me, honestly. A whole generation bows to you for the service you've done in whining at me for the service provided by addons.mozilla.org - a whole generation bows to you.

- Chris

dk70
 
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Post Posted August 13th, 2006, 4:50 pm

But Update site do require policy stated, that was problem of this guys creation http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=448745 From memory I think that is a rather new requirement as you can also see from old comments screaming SPYWARE!!! - find some old bars and you see them. Anyway, problem seems to be lack of extension definition. They should never have accepted one of these. As it is now I dont see how they can turn down any of these 120000 bars - most are about the same, only simple features from generator are utilized. The more advanced might open up for extra user made coding. Think you can put in own html, javascript for example.

Possible Effectivebrand have had some "problems" in the past but you have to judge them on todays products. Be sure their toolbar have been investigated thanks to the 5000$ reward ;) They only care for searching, encourage you to use their own engine as well I think. Not unfamilar scheme...

oldtimer
 
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Post Posted August 16th, 2006, 12:46 pm

Sure dk... whatever. At all these 'toolbars' I looked at, they seem to offer nothing useful. Much more they appear in almost constantly in EVERY search as the highest results - EVEN when they aren't relevant!!! Leaving the most relevant, or exact result at the bottom or one page back. It was madness when searching for 'Cookie Safe'. Now, thanks to joamont & Frank Lion, I can only guess, something was changed to remove these bastards. At least from appearing in unrelated search results.

It's one thing if they're relevant to to the current search, it's another when they appear in every search. Don't try and defend EffectiveBrand. Regardless of their 'data collecting' techniques past or present, I'm not stupid enough to download one of theose toolbars.

Today, instead 10 or 15 of those bars when searching for Cookie Safe, I only saw 2: Mojabosna Toolbar 1.0.1.20 & YOUTHERE1.com's Toolbar 1.0.1.19.
Current: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9b2pre) Gecko/2007112000 Minefield/3.0b2pre
For kicks: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.0.6) Gecko/20060728 Firefox/1.5.0.6

the-edmeister

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Post Posted August 17th, 2006, 10:59 am

... Effectivebrand ... their toolbar have been investigated thanks to the 5000$ reward
Didn't realize that reward was for extensions too.

Ed
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thyristor

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Post Posted August 23rd, 2006, 2:07 am

just a small update.
EffectiveBrand.com changed its name to Conduit.com and removed the "no spyware guaranteed" warnings from their homepage.

dk70
 
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Post Posted September 3rd, 2006, 2:58 pm

They are much about the same, just a new site targeted more towards "business". Privacy policy also the same http://conduit.com/privacy/ConduitPrivacy.aspx as are the toolbars.

One sign that might comfort the paranoia is they keep an open forum - not like they are hiding or get installed like another Yahoo toolbar! Old site can still be use btw http://www.effectivebrand.com/intro.aspx They have not invented collecting stats off web searches.

Now I see Mojabosna Toolbar for the xxth time showing up at Add-on site as updated. Problem is with Add-on site not Conduit/Effectivebrand. Silly updates to silly "extension" which shouldnt have been accepted in the first place.

Besides that I still think some features are great. A bit ugly but very customizable, more than buttons and presentation of a few rss feeds. Not bad considering much is simple point and click.

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