i saw this on a coding m-board its long, but tells a bunch of stuff
This is a reprint of an email I was fowarded:
There's a lot of hysterical ranting surrounding the Kazaa software. Here's the scoop... Kazaa Media Desktop is a free Windows program that lets people share music files, similar to the now-defunct Napster service. According to the stats at Download.com, over 8.6 million people have downloaded Kazaa. Aside from the fact that KaZaa's primary function is to facilitate the distribution of illegally-copied MP3 files, it's not a virus and doesn't do anything to harm your computer.
The problem is that when you download and install KaZaa, you also get another program called TopText. Experienced users who pay very close attention to the prompts during KaZaa the installation can uncheck a box to avoid having TopText installed, but the box is pre-checked. Most people are used to accepting all the default prompts when installing software, so they end up with TopText.
==> So What is TopText?
TopText is not a virus. But TopText *is* evil. TopText is software made by Ezula, Inc. that scans the web pages you view as they are loaded into the Internet Explorer browser. (TopText does not affect Netscape users.) When TopText sees certain keywords, it creates a link from that word to an advertiser that has paid Ezula. Why is this bad?
+ TopText causes your browser to run slower because it has to scan each page looking for keywords, and check with the Ezula server to see if it should create an advertising link for each word.
+ TopText modifies the content of web pages without permission, and website owners have no way of knowing that a third party is replacing words or links on their site with links to other sites.
+ The links added by TopText may redirect visitors to other sites which are objectionable to the visitor and/or the site owner. For example, a child using a browser with TopText installed may visit PBS's Barney website, click on the word 'love' and end up at a porn site.
+ When TopText links steal traffic from honest web sites, they can't generate the income they need to survive.
==> Hype and Speculation
+ Rumors abound that TopText sends private information about your online activities back to Ezula. As far as I know, this is pure speculation.
+ I've also heard that if you uninstall TopText, it will re-install itself the next time you log on to the internet. This didn't happen to me, but it's possible that older versions of TopText had this nasty feature.
==> KaZaa: Good or Evil?
The makers of KaZaa get paid by Ezula when people use TopText, but you can use KaZaa without TopText. If you downloaded KaZaa and got TopText as a result, you can click on My Computer -> Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs, then select TopText from the list and press the Add/Remove button.
You should also be on the lookout for programs that come bundled with Surf+, another utility similar to TopText. Just a few weeks ago, Microsoft was severely criticized for trying to include Smart Tags (a feature almost identical to TopText) into Windows XP. As a result they dropped their plans to do so. If Microsoft was forced to admit that link-hijacking is a bad idea, then hopefully the tide of public and legal opinion will soon turn against TopText, Surf+ and its ilk. For extra credit, read these related news stories:
CNET : Peer-to-peer exchanges court advertisers
MSNBC : Keyword software raises ire
==> Anti-Scumware Tools For Webmasters
Are you a webmaster angry about the hijacking of your visitors by Surf+ and TopText? Ezula is adamantly refusing requests to prevent TopText from affecting individual sites, but there are ways to insulate your site from the effects of these programs, and alert your visitors to the presence of 'scumware' on their computers.
Taking things one step further, the Developer Dispatch offers a snippet of code which will detect TopText or Surf+ and display a warning to your visitors.