Software of any nature that has the primary function of gathering data about an end-user. Data gathered maybe personal or in aggregate only.
MarketScore, calling itself "researchware" was originally marketed as an "internet accelerator service" through a CPA campaign on popular affiliate aggregators paying bounties of up to $5.00 or more for each user signing up for the service which promised not only a faster surfing experience but chances to win prizes. During the registration process and in the process of adding a computer to the Marketscore Network, the computer and browsers are configured to route ALL Internet communication automatically through the Marketscore Network.
MarketScore assigns a unique ID so they can accurately and anonymously track Internet use. At this time MarketScore, formerly called Netsetter, no longer markets the so-called "Internet Accelerator" but provides a "FREE e-mail virus protection service through an award-winning, market leader in anti-virus technology." Although this market leader is not named. This is possibly due to the fact that the previous anti-virus technology provider, Symantec, cut ties with MarketScore after pressure from privacy activists. Reference: http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1831292,00.asp
However, as of October 25, 2006 through their JDCouncil.org property, Marketscore prominently displays this option:
Would you like to enable Symantec CarrierScan Server virus protection for your email at no cost?
Analysis of PP & EULA Metrics
Number of Characters: 20935 Number of Words: 3474 Number of Sentences: 100 Avg Words per Sentence: 34.74 Flesch Score: 11.6 Flesch Grade: 20 = Beyond Twelfth Grade Reading Level
Internet usage information: Once you install our application, it monitors all of the Internet behavior that occurs on the computer on which you install the application, including both your normal web browsing and the activity that you undertake during secure sessions, such as filling a shopping basket, completing an application form or checking your online accounts, which may include personal financial or health information. We make commercially viable efforts to develop automatic filters that would allow us to avoid collection of sensitive personally identifiable information such as UserID, password, and credit card numbers. Inadvertently, we may collect such sensitive information about our panelists; and when this happens, we will make commercially viable efforts to purge our database of such information.
This application also tracks the pace and style with which you enter information online (for example, whether you click on links, type in webpage names, or use shortcut keys), the usage of cookies, and statistics about your use of online applications (for example, it may observe that during a given period of use of a computer, the computer downloaded X number of bytes of data using a particular Internet enabled gaming application).
Please note: Our application does not examine the contents of your instant messages or e-mail messages. We may, however, review select e-mail header information from web-based e-mails as a way to verify your contact information and your online usage information.
How is the information collected?
This application monitors your Internet usage by transmitting to our servers information about the web pages that you visit and the actions that you take while online. In addition, we may ask for information about you using surveys, for which participation is completely voluntary. We may also combine the information that you provide us with additional information (such as select credit bureau and prescription information) or with information obtained from other sources (such as consumer preference reporting companies, credit reporting agencies, and prescription benefits managers) using confidential matching procedures. In these cases, we will: (i) provide only the personal information necessary to perform a match and, infrequently, to assist us performing statistical analysis; (ii) establish procedures and legal obligations that prohibit use of the information received for any other purpose or disclosure of this information to anyone else; and (iii) require destruction of the received information after completion of the match. The information that we obtain from other sources will not include sensitive personally identifiable information such as credit card numbers and account numbers.
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How is the collected information used?
Market Research Reports: Applying concepts similar to those used by television-rating services, we use the information collected through our application and your survey responses, combined with information from other sources, to make statistically-based projections about current and future Internet user behavior and, more generally, to extrapolate data about potential economic trends. For certain commercial customers, we may provide individual-level information only after this information has been made anonymous. We make this data available so that these customers may enhance their own understanding of Internet usage and online commercial trends. In ALL cases, we do NOT provide our customers with any personally identifiable information. Our customers use our market research reports to: (i) modify online services and offerings; (ii) make more effective use of online data to understand both online and offline commercial behavior; and (iii) discern general economic trends and the business performance of specific entities for a wide range of business purposes including, but not limited to, identifying financial investment opportunities and understanding the value and interest in certain business enterprises.
By Service Providers: From time to time, we may share your contact information with those third parties who help us deliver this program to you (for example, companies that administer incentive programs). When we do this, we provide only the necessary information for the service provider to perform its assigned function, and we contractually prohibit the use or disclosure of this information to anyone else unless you authorize it.
As Required by Law: In rare cases, and as is done by any other business, if we are compelled to disclose certain information through a valid legal process, such as a court order, subpoena, or a search warrant, we would do so. However, we would comply by providing only the minimum information necessary
"Marketscore monitors all of your Internet behavior, including both the normal web browsing you perform, and also the activity you may have through secure sessions, such as when filling a shopping basket or filling out an application form that may contain personal financial and health information. Marketscore's proprietary and patent pending technology allows us to see the details of secure pages while protecting such content from parties other than the site to which you are connected."
"In addition to the monitoring of your Internet behavior, we may also combine the information that you provide us with information such as credit or prescription information that we obtain from third parties such as consumer preference reporting companies, credit reporting agencies, and prescription benefits managers."
During our testing in late 2004 we did not observe any significant speedup from using the now defunct accelerator service. However we have NOT observed any use of exploits or installation through security holes and users must go through a multi-page sign-up process.
However independent researchers report the software can silently download and install arbitrary unsigned code from its controlling server, as a self-update feature and it can install its own trusted root certificates so it can intercept secure (SSL) connections made by your machine. These certificates are left behind even when the software is uninstalled, allowing MarketScore servers to impersonate any other domain. Source: http://marketscore.ucr.edu/
In the NS variant: Every web connection goes through a remote proxy server where everything you send and fetch (including 'secure' HTTPS connections such and online banking) is stored and analyzed. Because it works as a proxy itself, it won't connect properly through other external proxies. Source: http://marketscore.ucr.edu/
In the OS variant: Makes modifications to e-mail messages you receive or web pages you visit and then monitors/records your responses to the ads they insert. It sends back data to a controlling server. Source: http://marketscore.ucr.edu/
Marketscore does not show ads nor do they produce pop-ups or to our knowledge sell personal information. Their business model revolves around gathering detailed surfing and computer use information in aggregate for sale.
In the small print of the agreement they mention they may log all your surfing traffic as well as machine behavior. This software is particularly invasive because they can monitor and view secure pages INCLUDING ENCRYPTED TRAFFIC FROM SENSITIVE ONLINE TRANSACTIONS.
While they report to have numerous safeguards in place human beings still have access to this information, some which may be of a highly sensitive nature. Furthermore, this information can be released to authorities via subpoena.
Can be removed from Add and Remove Programs.
There is also a hidden uninstall feature. Open a DOS command prompt window (from Start->Programs->Accessories) and enter (for Windows 95/98/Me):
"%WinDir%\SYSTEM\NSCheck.exe" /uninstall Or for Windows NT/2000/XP just: