15 Dec 2003 forrest   » (Journeyer)

Verizon Spyware Warning

My wife and I recently got a cellphone plan from Verizon. With our cellphones, they included a tutorial CD. I put it in my wife's Win2k box (it's Windows-only, of course) to see if there was anything worth seeing. It appeared to just be a gee-whiz flash presentation of the manual for people who can't read (I'm thinking there must be a lot of those these days!) Yawn.

At least that's what it appeared to be until I shut down the tutorial app. As soon as I clicked the close box, ZoneAlarm informed me that something named noptify.exe wanted to access the internet.

The CD installs noptify.exe as a hidden file in c:\winnt\temp, and it tries to contact the internet periodically as long as you have it installed. Verizon clearly goes to some length to deceive the user and cover their tracks.

Why would the largest U.S. wireless provider do something want to do something so ethically dubious? What sort of information are they gathering? Why would they want to risk their reputation by maliciously compromising their customers' computers?

I definitely want to make some noise about this one, but I haven't formed my plan of attack yet. I'm thinking of writing the FTC and/or my elected representatives and cc'ing Verizon customer support.

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