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True Story: Spyware Trouble in Australia

by Wayne Porter

we often get to hear first-hand from readers who have experienced difficulties because of spyware. This particular story caught our attention because it illustrates how destructive rogue advertising or dialer applications can be. This gentleman may lose his job, livelihood and his clean record all over some applications that were inadvertently installed on his machine.

Because of the nature of stealth installations we often see machines literally bogged down with multiple adware applications, Trojan horses and dialers. It is also increasingly common to see E-mail as an entry point for these applications.

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Find the story below with a few details obscured to protect our reader.

?I was wondering if you could help me because I am in real need of help. I am an Public Servant and in this year a large number of graphic porn popups appeared on an Internet stand alone computer in my office. As I had been using the computer and I had inadvertently accessed a porn site through opening a mail message in my hotmail junk mailbox, I assumed that I had somehow caused these popups to appear.

I sent an email to my manager and told him that I thought that I may have inadvertently caused the popups to appear, with that in mind my work has done a full investigation and concluded that I accessed porn sites with intent, I tried to cover my tracks - because I visited software and hacking sites and I bypassed the administrators privileges to download and install software. All of which I didn't do.

The end result of all this is that I have been fined $AUD700. I am probably going to be shifted from my present position which pays shift penalties (a loss of around $10,000 per year), I have been deemed unsuitable for promotion or transfer (I have been passed over for 2 jobs since the investigation started) and of course this breach of the code of conduct will go on my record and be there forever.

I did find the ISTBar on the computer and deleted it from the System including the registry as I had had problems with it at home as I had been using Napster and Kazaa and the 15 year old boy plays virtual reality games using mud's. Ncase 180 solutions was also self installed on the computer and I have some log files from that program. To me these logs prove that the sex sites that came up were brought up by adware/spyware but my bosses conclude that I accessed these sites with intent.

The problem is that these programs are relatively recently appearing this year and they have become very stealthy in their installation - obviously it wouldn't be spyware if you knew it was there. Our IT people were not very aware of these programs and what they were capable of and I am sure that our management and investigators were not that clued up on this relatively new problem so of course they saw a porn site and concluded that I accessed it on purpose.

Do you have any advice or can you point me in the right direction to get help on this problem, I do believe my career of 13 years is over and, although I have not been sacked, I am looking for another job however, I would like to clear my name and get these charges removed from my record.

I have 18 text files from the Ncase 180 Solutions logs (converted from the original fiz files) and have attached one that shows the activity occurring. In one instance I was supposed to have accessed 13 porn sites in 48 seconds - not a bad effort for someone who types with two fingers. The log files show a history trail of other sites visited ie main home page, then page 1 then page 2 etc, etc, however, the porn sites that come up only usually show a single page on that site. My management is out to find a scapegoat for this and because I thought I had caused the popups to appear and put my hand up for it they are going to hit me with everything just to have a scalp to give to the CEO.
- Name Withheld by Request?

Our simple advice for this reader is to get a lawyer, preferably one that has a skill set in computer law. This situation has progressed to the point where it is unfortunately necessary. In the United States, there have been documented cases of people getting "off the hook" by proving an adware/Trojan was installed on their machine without their knowledge. All it takes is one spyware program to be installed, even by accident, and your job can be in jeopardy- even if you did not willfully install the application.

Have a story to share so others can learn? Contact us at support@spywareguide.com. All names will be kept confidential.

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