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View Full Version : A foul practice abounds



VirtualAce
12-03-2006, 06:55 PM
Downloading games from the internet b/c you are too lazy to go to the store or don't want to pay extra?

Beware.


Lots of game companies are starting to use WildTangent and moreso Boonty Box to provide downloads for their games. This will install several programs that run in the background while you play your game...and every time you play your game.

So you say I'll just uninstall BoontyBox or whatever it is...and yes that works until you run the exe for the game. That's right they are infecting the exe with their crappy spyware software. This to me is a clear invasion of privacy and nearly 'hacker' in nature. Adding a service we can uninstall is not a major issue, but infecting the exe so that when you run the game it reinstalls the spyware service....now that's a whole nother ball game.

I for one am seeking legal action to take against these types of practices. What's the difference of them infecting an exe to track my game playing habits or me infecting their exe to distribute a virus?

Nothing.

swgh
12-03-2006, 07:09 PM
If I was to answer it sounds like a very cruel and unfriedly way to make a user "buy" a game rather than download it, it would not be at all wrong. I agree Bubba, how certain companys ( we are not naming names ) think they can get away with implanting spyware/adware or as you suggested viruses onto sombodys machine is beyond me.

So I take it the more you play one of these games, the more spyware adds up. its crazy. Im glad you are taking legal action, sombody should. Spyware and adware creators seem to be getting clever in the fact they can get around peoples removal tools on their machines. It is somthing everybody should be on the look out for, I run all cleaning tools on my laptop once a week, do a virus scan once a every fortnight.

The only way we can beat this sort of thing is by carfully tracking the source and putting and end to the companys that deliver such malisouse sotware.

Unfortunatly, that seems a long way off...

h_howee
12-03-2006, 09:57 PM
My Computer Came With Wildtangent Preinstalled

g4j31a5
12-03-2006, 10:37 PM
Is it the same with StarForce protection?

SMurf
12-04-2006, 06:05 AM
Bearing in mind that EA is already selling advertising in its games. Does that make the actual game adware? If so, they will gain your permission through the EULA anyway. :rolleyes:

Mario F.
12-04-2006, 06:10 AM
And that is the key point. Don't like the EULA? Don't buy it.

VirtualAce
12-04-2006, 07:10 AM
This is not in the EULA. The spyware is not part of the original licensed product. It is placed there by the download service so they can track your interests for future advertising. The spyware resides in the setup.exe and in the exe files for the games which to me is clearly a hidden and subversive tactic. Don't infect the exes with spyware just to track players, especially when the original exe does not have that in it.

Mario F.
12-04-2006, 07:31 AM
It is possible then that you have a case. Have you contacted the sales department of the game makers about it?

Nodtveidt
12-04-2006, 11:45 AM
If the installation of the software in question is written about in the EULA and you installed the software anyways, then you have no case unless the software's purposes are not expressly stated in the EULA itself. Just syaing "this software installs yadda-yadda spyware agent" isn't enough; it needs to specify the intended purpose beyond doubt. Read the EULA very very carefully and make note of any vague areas or omissions, then, if you think you have a case, take it to a corporate attourney with interest or, optimally, experience in software and/or product fraud. It might be wise to consult one anyways and have him/her read the EULA for potential problems. In any event, gather as much data as possible, you have a much better chance that way rather than just running in with guns blazing.

Ads in games are another ballgame altogether (pun intended). Companies pay big bucks for those ads and it's all legal. I never ever buy these games myself...I play video games to ESCAPE reality, not to have it thrown back in my face. Hell, I don't even watch TV for the plain and simple reason that I cannot stand advertising.

indigo0086
12-04-2006, 11:48 AM
This is why I don't buy EA games or many PC games to begin with.

cboard_member
12-04-2006, 02:13 PM
>> This is why I don't buy EA games or many PC games to begin with.

How many PC games do this? Forgive my ignorance, but I only know of two games, BF2 and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Clearly there are more but I didn't think it was so widespread that it's putting people off of buying PC games.

maxorator
12-04-2006, 02:17 PM
Simple advertisings are not bad. But spyware - DEATH TO THE COMPANIES WHO DISTRIBUTE SPYWARE.

SMurf
12-04-2006, 02:25 PM
I think the cleverest defence may be the development of "brick wall" software. You don't attack or attempt to remove the spyware as such, but any functions it calls to gain information is met with a "blank" response.

Let's see how profitable that is... ;)

Mario F.
12-04-2006, 03:41 PM
Quite easy to implement with current personal firewalls. I never understand why certain software I buy calls home. But I don't care either. I simply block it from doing so. Even easier if the software is a third party application.

Nodtveidt
12-04-2006, 06:42 PM
A spyware replacement application is also a possibility...

Kybo_Ren
12-04-2006, 09:50 PM
Why not remove the spyware installer from the executable?

Assuming you know your way around a disassembler :)

Nodtveidt
12-05-2006, 08:53 AM
That would work...but unfortunately, not every coder is a hacker. :D

VirtualAce
12-06-2006, 12:05 AM
The main issue here is not with store bought games. The problem is with downloaded games and/or downloaded add-ons that are not released in a box such as add-ons to Pacific Fighters by Maddox Games...distributed by UbiSoft.

What I foresee is a major shift to attempt to force us to download add-ons rather than release a DVD or CD with the add-on. This is not a problem until they add in their nifty spyware. If you run the PE-2 addon for Pacific Fighters it will spawn a Boonty Box process in your process list. This is 100% unacceptable. If you remove Boonty Box from your registry and re-run the PE-2 version exe (il2fb.exe) it will add all the keys to the registry you just deleted.

So what they are doing is selling software as an add-on, complete game, etc,...but they are adding their own spyware to the exes of the games in order to better track your game habits so I suspect they can then bombard your email with offers from their site for more games in the genres you play.

The current Boonty Box sends back information about which games are installed on your system, your system specs, and several other pieces of information during installation of the add-on. To my knowledge the boonty box process that runs along with the game does not attempt to access the internet...but again it may be able to mask itself behind the actual parent process and thus a firewall would not detect it. The firewall would see that your game is trying to access the net and would let it through. The only way to block it would be to block the game....but thus no multiplayer in your game. It defies logic as to why the boonty box process would run along with the game...if it does not need to access the internet. There have also been reports of memory issues in the game caused by the boonty box process which means this process is masking itself behind the parent process and actually using the same memory pool as the parent process.

It is a deceptive practice that should be illegal. Spawning processes just to track my habits and sys specs is a clear violation of my privacy and is not what I paid for. I paid for a game or an add-on...not a spyware filled piece 'o trash.

Steer clear of boonty box or wild tangent. Google it and you will see the mess.