Saturday, January 31, 2009

SweetIM: All About Fun [and parasites]

Every once in a while, I like to click on those links that messaging clients advertise for smilies, emoticons, and other useless crap, just to see what it is these client-based parasitic applications want in return for the extra content they're slipping into your instant messaging program.

SweetIM is just another one of these parasitic zero-purpose applications. SweetIM is made up of 2 separate components, an instant-messaging add-on, and a browser plug-in (toolbar) that modifies your search provider and homepage. A quick peek at their EULA (http://www.sweetim.com/eula.html#) you find the usual dribble... and it's interesting too.
"In order to receive the benefits provided by the SweetIM Software, you hereby grant permission for the SweetIM Software to (i) utilize the processor and bandwidth of your computer, only in order to provide you with the Services"

and then there's this little gem under the 4. Risks section
"SWEETIM IS TAKING REASONABLE MESURES IN ATEMPT TO KEEP THE SWEETIM SOFTWARE AND SERVICE SECURE. HOWEVER, LIKE ALL OTHER INTERNET SOFTWARE PROVIDERS, THE SOFTWARE, SERVICE AND SITE MAY STILL BE VULNERABLE TO VARIOUS SECURITY ISSUES AND FOR THAT REASON, SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED SECURE.
If you choose to use the SweetIM Software or the Services, you may be exposed to a variety of risks such as : (i) unauthorized invasion of your privacy during, or as a result of, your or another's use of the Service (ii) unauthorized exposure of information and material posted by you or others on or through the Services. (iii) potential exposure to objectionable material and/or parties, such as content and messages that may offend and which may contain contaminated files., (iv) spoofing, eavesdropping, sniffing, spamming, breaking passwords, harassment, fraud, forgery, "imposturing", electronic trespassing, tampering, hacking, nuking, system contamination including without limitation use of viruses, worms and Trojan horses causing unauthorized, damaging or harmful access and/or retrieval of information and data on your computer and other forms of activity that may even be illegal.
IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE SUBJECTED TO THESE RISKS, YOU ARE
ADVISED NOT TO USE THE SWEETIM SOFTWARE OR SERVICE.

That's some interesting EULA components, right? How many other pieces of software have you ever downloaded or installed that came with that sort of disclaimer?

Then in a later paragraph we get a hint on how SweetIM uses your computer, and makes its money, in the Installation, Operation and Removal section.
"SweetIM for Internet Explorer can be minimized by right clicking the
toolbar and selecting it. In addition, you will receive SweetIM Search
Assistance feature which provides you with relevant search results when you
place a search query in the browser address bar (as described above under Search
Assistance)"

So as most of the other free parasitic softwares out there, these guys get paid by giving you adds when you do legit searches, and essentially hijacking your search capabilities with their paid adviertisers, no doubt.

This next section is my favorite part.
"When a user uses one of SweetIM search feature to search the Web, the query
reaches our servers. As all standard Web pages, besides the keyword query, it
includes information such as IP address, default language setting, browser type,
and an anonymous unique ID. SweetIM uses this information in order to
appropriately process your search request and to serve you relevant and better
search results.
The SweetIM toolbar sends a configuration request when you
start your browser. This request includes only data such as IP address&
browser type. In addition, occasionally SweetIM for Messenger & SweetIM
toolbar may send a request to our servers to check for new version releases.
All of the collected information is kept strictly anonymous, is
non-personally identifiable, and is used only for purposes of delivering better
search services and content in accordance with your preferences. "


Hey, at least they look out for your privacy :)

Seriously people, stop installing these things.

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