Potential Altnet.o Violations and Security Issues

People tend to break some child protection laws through their little internet scams. Most spyware-infested software is targeted toward adults. However, the user that sits down at the computer can be of any age, and the spyware modules have no good way of knowing who is at the machine and what legal protections are provided to him or her. In particular, laws in the United States prohibit the collection of personal information from children under 13 without the written permission of a parent or guardian. However, most spyware or adware AdWare.Win32.Altnet.o does not make any provisions for users whom they are not legally permitted to collect data from, a huge potential problem when it comes to laws such as the U.S. Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Again, since a spyware program is an independent executable program residing on your PC, it will have all the privileges of the user that installed it. On the majority of single-user systems, including Windows 95 and 98, these privileges allow software to read, write and delete files, download and install other software, change the default homepage, interrogate other devices attached to the system, or even format the hard drive. While multi-user systems such as Windows NT can limit the spyware’s abilities somewhat, it can still do anything the user who installed it can–a scary thought indeed if an application containing spyware was unknowingly installed by someone with Administrator privileges.

Some spyware modules include a number of insecure features, including so-called AutoInstall or AutoUpdate functions that can secretly download and install ANY arbitrary program on the user’s system. This opens the door for further abuse of the system by malicious crackers or additional spyware programs! In particular, competent security experts including Gibson Research Corp. have proven how simple it is for a malicious user to hijack this capability to upload and run ANY program on a user’s system!

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