Patterico's Pontifications

8/13/2004

Rob Martinson: The Scumbag and Ex-Con Behind Spy Wiper

Filed under: Spy Wiper — Patterico @ 6:12 am

Via Suzi, a story about Rob Martinson, the scum behind Spy Wiper, a program that hijacked my computer and thousands more across the nation.

There’s even a photo of Martinson from when he was in prison! Here’s hoping he’s on his way back.

2/11/2004

COMPLAINT FILED WITH FTC AGAINST SPY WIPER

Filed under: Spy Wiper — Patterico @ 7:01 am

The Center for Democracy and Technology has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission relating to the Spy Wiper browser hijacking problem. (Spy Wiper has been discussed extensively at this blog since November; you can read my posts about Spy Wiper here.) Patterico is quoted in the FTC complaint, which you can read here.

CDT’s announcement reads:

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) today filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Mailwiper Inc., Seismic Entertainment Media and/or their affiliates engaged in deceptive and unfair marketing practices by changing computer users’ Web homepages without their consent and then trying to convince these users that they needed the Mailwiper program called “Spy Wiper” software to protect their computer. CDT has heard from several consumers who have spent hours trying to fix their computer and some who even bought Spy Wiper to no avail. CDT asked consumers to provide information about their experiences with spyware via a Web site. CDT received hundreds of messages about different companies. Several of these messages were about Spy Wiper and their activities led CDT to investigate further.

People who wish to complain to the FTC about Spy Wiper can find a complaint form here.

P.S. Remember when I posted that I was “working on something very exciting” that “should bring a big smile to your face”? This is what I meant. Late last month, I exchanged e-mails with the people at CDT who were preparing the complaint. They asked me to write them with details of my experiences, and to include any information concerning how many people I believed had been affected. I researched how many people had visited my site looking for help getting rid of Spy Wiper, and sent them the details, which are quoted in the complaint. They asked me to keep it under wraps for a few days, and I complied.

I think the final product is a compelling piece of work, and my hat is off to the folks at CDT. I feel very satisfied to have made a small contribution towards the noble effort of shutting these lowlifes down. And I couldn’t have made this modest contribution if it weren’t for the power of blogs.

1/25/2004

SPY WIPER TO BE SUED FOR PERSONAL INJURY?

Filed under: Spy Wiper — Patterico @ 12:10 am

Though the magic of permalinks for comments, I can link directly to a very interesting comment regarding the evil Spy Wiper company. “J” (who in his anger may have been under the mistaken impression that I’m associated with Spy Wiper) intends to sue Spy Wiper. He says that when Spy Wiper opened his CD-ROM drive, it popped his infant in the eye. The infant had to be taken to the emergency room.

“J”‘s story is not at all implausible. When you go around popping open people’s CD-ROM drives without warning, someone could get hurt. Good luck to you, “J”! I hope you bleed those bastards dry.

12/6/2003

Spy Wiper Fix?

Filed under: Scum,Spy Wiper — Patterico @ 8:39 pm

Here is a thread that has a possible fix for the ugly Spy Wiper problem.

Also check out this site.

UPDATE: The simplest fix, which worked for me, was to reset my home page to a different home page by clicking “Tools” and then “Internet Options” from my toolbar. Then I deleted the Spy Wiper cookie. I forget what it’s called, so you might have to delete all cookies, which is a pain — but less of a pain than Spy Wiper.

UPDATE x2: If, when you try change your home page by clicking “Tools” and then “Internet Options” from your toolbar, you are unable to do so because of system restrictions in effect, you may need to edit your registry. I do not recommend this if you do not know what you are doing. Bad Things can happen when you edit your registry, and I am not responsible. That said, if you still want to try, instructions are here. You need to disable the restriction preventing changes to Home Page settings.

11/28/2003

Spy Wiper Help

Filed under: Scum,Spy Wiper — Patterico @ 10:27 pm

SPY WIPER HELP: For those looking for help because their browser was hijacked by Spy Wiper, read this post and the comments. A potential fix is in the comments; let me know if it works.

UPDATE: I am keeping this post at the top of the page for at least the rest of the day, and possibly longer, due to the interest this is getting from people victimized by this company. This also means that you may be missing new posts if you stop reading with this one.

UPDATE x2: Xrlq has useful links on the topic.

UPDATE x3: If that didn’t help, try the links in this post. Also, there is a lot of information in the comments below.

UPDATE x4: A complaint against Spy Wiper has been filed with the FTC! Further information, including information on how to contact the FTC, is available here. I urge anyone who has had their browser hijacked by this company to follow up with the FTC.

11/27/2003

SPY WIPER HIJACKING UPDATE: I

Filed under: Scum,Spy Wiper — Patterico @ 12:32 am

SPY WIPER HIJACKING UPDATE: I have noticed that I have been getting a lot of Google hits from people looking for information on Spy Wiper. Apparently due to my recent post about how my browser was hijacked by this company, Patterico is high on the Google list when you search for “Spy Wiper.” Moreover, Patterico is apparently the top site not maintained by the company (and thus the first site that people click on if their browsers were also hijacked).

BoiFromTroy has disclosed that he had the identical thing happen to him, quite recently. He reports that the offending company is called “Mail Wiper, Inc.” and is based in Georgia. Given his report, other similar reports, and the numerous Google searches, I believe that this is an experience many people are having right now. I would therefore like to invite comments on two topics:

1) If you have had your browser hijacked by this company, describe your experience in the comments. Tell us the date and exactly what happened. I sense there is a lot of frustration out there. Please vent it here.

2) I would also like to hear from anyone with insights on what can be done to stop this company’s hijacking of people’s browsers. I am less interested in technical fixes, virus software, etc. and more interested in legal opinions as to steps that can be taken against the company. Is this illegal? To whom should people complain? Any and all relevant suggestions are welcome.

UPDATE: I put a potential fix in the comments. It worked for at least one person. Please leave feedback as to whether it works for you.

11/26/2003

NEW HOME PAGE: After two

Filed under: Scum,Spy Wiper — Patterico @ 8:45 pm

NEW HOME PAGE: After two awful days of having Talking Points Memo as my home page (to avoid the home page that browser hijackers Spy Wiper forced on me), reader and General Good Guy Steve G. has taught me how to edit my registry and reset my home page. Patterico is now my home page. Thank you, Steve!

P.S. I also finally managed to fix the permalinks, which I broke by adding comments.

11/24/2003

COMPUTER PROTECTION RACKET: Some company

Filed under: Scum,Spy Wiper — Patterico @ 6:10 am

COMPUTER PROTECTION RACKET: Some company has started an internet protection racket. They somehow commandeered our browser and changed our home page. Now, when we open Internet Explorer, we are taken to a page that tries to sell us a program called “Spy Wiper.” This page does tricks like popping our CD-ROM open, or launching Notepad. Then we get a warning that says (I am paraphrasing): “If your CD-ROM popped open, or your Notepad launched, you need to download our program.”

I’d give you the link, but I’m afraid that if you went there, the same thing might happen to your computer.

If I had the people responsible for this here, it would be simple; I could just strangle them. As it is, I must settle for some other solution. If you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

UPDATE: I have received requests from computer-savvy people for me to publish the URLs of the site that hijacked my browser. Here they are — but beware: if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t click on them:

http://default-homepage-network.com/index2.html

http://default-homepage-network.com/index3.html

The first one is the one that pops open your CD-ROM and launches a menacing message on Notepad.

Through a comment at xrlq’s site, I saw a link to something called “Hijack This.” But how do I know this isn’t another scam program? (By the way, it’s probably just coincidence, but this all started about 24 hours after I installed and ran Ad Aware 6.0 — a program I downloaded after reading about similar problems others had been having.) I don’t know what programs to trust anymore.

UPDATE x2: It happened to BoiFromTroy too.

UPDATE x3: Well, I fixed the problem in a strange way. I first followed BoiFromTroy’s advice, and installed all Windows updates and got rid of all cookies. This didn’t fix the problem. Then I remembered that the liberal blog Talking Points Memo has a feature whereby you can make that site your home page by clicking on the appropriate link. So I did that, and Spy Wiper’s page was gone.

I had previously set the Drudge Report as my home page, and frankly, I’d rather have that (or Patterico, for that matter) as my home page, rather than Talking Points Memo. But Josh Marshall is preferable to Spy Wiper, so until someone explains how I can take back control of my computer, this will have to do.

UPDATE x4: Problem fixed, thanks to reader Steve G. No more having to look at Josh Marshall’s self-satisfied mug every time I open a new browser. Thanks, Steve!

I still want to make this company pay. I am soliciting suggestions as to how to accomplish that, at this post.


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