January 2, 2002 5:10 PM PST

File-sharing programs carry Trojan horse

A pair of popular file-sharing programs have become privacy time bombs, according to computer experts.

Antivirus company Symantec last week reported the presence of "spyware" bundled with Grokster and LimeWire, two popular file-swapping downloads. The code evidently does not damage computers, but it surreptitiously sends personal information such as user ID names and the Internet address of computers to another Web address.

Advertising software called "Clicktilluwin" that comes bundled with the file-swapping programs carries a program called "W32.DIDer," which Symantec has classified as a Trojan horse--a piece of code that takes over parts of a person's computer unseen in order to carry out its own instructions.

Although unrelated advertising programs are routinely bundled with free file-swapping programs--and have prompted some user criticism in the past--this appears to be the first time one of them has included a program classified as a Trojan horse by security experts.

The Trojan horse software installs itself even if a computer user selects an option that appears to block Clicktilluwin's installation. For this reason, antivirus companies are warning people to scan their computers after installing these products to ensure the code is removed.

On the heels of the Symantec warning, some consumers complained of similar problems with FastTrack's Kazaa Media Desktop. CNET News.com could not duplicate the problem in a test of that product Wednesday.

A spokesman for Lime Wire, the company behind the LimeWire program, said the version with Clicktilluwin included had been replaced with a clean version by Tuesday.

"It was not what we thought this was," said Greg Bildson, Lime Wire's chief technical officer. "It was supposed to be a promotional tool...not blatant spyware."

Grokster has gone one step further, apologizing and providing its users with a program that will remove the offending bits of code from personal computers

"We have no access to the source code of these third-party installers and so we rely on what our advertisers say these programs do," the company wrote on its Web site Wednesday. "Now that we have learned of the Trojan, we are doing everything we can to minimize its impact on our users."

Because software programs are among the most popular downloads on the Net, the Trojan horse could potentially find its way onto a large number of computers. Kazaa, for example, is one of the most popular pieces of software available through CNET Download.com, a site operated by News.com's parent company, with more than 1.3 million downloads in the last week of December alone.

Bitter warnings about the code spread through consumer bulletin boards on several different Web sites last week.

"Make sure you have a good virus utility if you must install this," one person wrote on Download.com's Grokster reviews.

See more CNET content tagged:
file-swapping, Grokster Ltd., LimeWire, file-sharing, computer expert

4 comments

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huh
Why you no be using linux fools
Posted by lunchonwednesday (1 comment )
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Limewire
Limewire took my memory and made my computer so slow it actually crashed. My computer has so much memory and so many external memory resources that I find it hard to believe that Limewire did not access every single file on my computer. IT IS SPYWARE, NO QUESTION, SO AT THIS TIME LIMEWIRE MUST BE SORRY THEY HAVE A STRING BACK TO THEM FROM MY COMPUTER BECAUSE I CREATED A SOFTWARE THAT SHOWS ME THE STRINGS AND EXACT TRAVEL OF SIGNAL. It is against the law to program a software that spys on the users actions. Just to let you know, if you are Limewire you think you are watching me but inreality you are watching a mirror image of yourself in a matrix. So take that and use it, by the way scalar and others will not show you what I have done, the address will only show you what you want to see, keep you busy in a string of your own messes.

You will never know what hit you, Im better than you and Im one of the good guys so choke on that!
Posted by nicki73 (6 comments )
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FileSharing Programs
I know thi to be true. I have been in computers for 15 year, and whenever the clients kids get limewire or kaza...wow, the registry bloats with entries and I am called to get the computer back in order again. I see new entries in C:\windows(winnt)\system32 and in C:\programs\commonfiles and more. I remove all by hand. The auto programs wil not get it all, and I probably don't either, but I get more of it, and stop the bakground activity.

Limewire is a bad program to install. Same with Kazza
Posted by eSchmeltzer (18 comments )
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Dont go to Grokster it been shut down and there now tracking down anyone who used it or went to the web page!
Posted by mcrules230 (1 comment )
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