Windows Messenger pop-up ads assaulting Windows users; Macintosh unaffected

“Before Walter Pomerleau could surf the Web recently, he had to fight a new kind of pop-up ad sweeping across the Internet,” Byron Acohido reports for USA TODAY. “The retired Massachusetts State Police major had to cancel 30 pop-up text boxes, each one directing him to Web pages to buy products and services. Later, as Pomerleau tried to compose e-mail, he had to delete 15 more pop-up boxes that kept superimposing in front of his e-mail. ‘They were more than annoying,’ he says. ‘They drove me crazy.’ Pomerleau fell victim to advertisers who are increasingly taking advantage of a feature, Windows messenger service, built into PCs using the Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP operating systems. This includes all Windows PCs sold in the past two years.”

Acohido explains that the Windows “feature” was intended to allow network administrators to broadcast text alerts via pop-up boxes to groups of computer users in a corporate setting. But, hackers discovered this “feature” will also accept pop-up boxes broadcast across the Internet. This means that advertisers can insert product pitches into such boxes and broadcast them to any Web-connected Windows XP or 2000 personal computer.

“‘It has gotten to the point where the home PC user has to battle for control of his PC,’ says Jeremiah Grossman, president of WhiteHat Security… Microsoft views pop-up boxes as a benign nuisance that does ‘not pose a security risk,’ says Greg Sullivan, product manager for Windows. Advertisers are unable to ‘execute code or do anything malicious,’ Sullivan says. ‘It does nothing to compromise your system other than cause an interruption,'” Acohido reports.

Macintosh users are unaffected.

Full article here.

29 Comments

  1. How can the winteloids tolerate this crap? Ignorance. Pure ignorance. Let your pocketbook do the talking, people! Don’t complain to Microshaft. BUY A MAC!

    Fools.

  2. It is not a security risk, so we won’t do anything about it. In fact we have been thinking about imposing a $0.0001 per pop up charge to the advetisers. This way we can make money on the feature we prepared so that we can slowly brain wash our consumers.
    If this in fact was a security risk you would know by the loud sound of Redmond nailing down the hatches and the mass of airdropped flyers proclaiming that any security risk is due to the computer user and not the manufacturer of the operating system.

    – Press Release from Redmond tomorrow

  3. The Beast is arrogant and calls its users dumb and stupid: it is alwasy the fault of the silly user. Windows users sing a cappella “TRUE, TRUE, the Dumbests of all Love you Micros**t”

  4. This is what happens when you become incredibly clueless about your customers wants. 50,000 employees, and they can’t find someone to shut this off? Unbelievable…

  5. Chomper: Micros**t rep sais it is not a security threat hence it will stay. It is up to the user to stop it but – again – Micros**t believe its users are the dumbest of all hence they will never be able to stop it entirely which pleases advertisers a lot.

  6. http://www.spychecker.com/program/messengerutil.html

    Shoot The Messenger is a very simple tool that helps you get rid of annoying IP based Messenger popup ads (the ones that use the Windows NT/2000/XP Messenger service). These popups are unlike regular popups, since they abuse the Messenger Service, which is intended to send text messages across a network, using the computer`s IP address. They can appear as dialog box on your desktop if you have the Messenger Service enabled and are not using a firewall.

    Shoot The Messenger will display the current status of the Messenger Service and allows you to turn it off/on with a simple click, without having to go into the Windows configurations panel. The program does not need to be running after the service has been turned on or off. It can also be used from the commandline. Very simple to use too.

  7. To: “here’s the easy fix”

    Patch away! Daily, at this point, it seems. I have better things to do. Owning a computer is not a contest with myself to see if I can keep it running well. I have a Mac. Your solution? Once again, not as easy as a Mac. Will the other 90% ever awaken? Or have they started to do so already?

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