Copyright © 1999 - 2006, Sandra Hardmeier, All
Rights Reserved Worldwide
Last updated 20/08/2006
Spread via AOL Instant Messenger, users of that programme receive a message, apparently from somebody on their Buddy List, prompting them to visit various links, including sites at gwutv.com, buddylinks.net or gamesandquizzes.com.
If the hapless user clicks on the link, a programme that *appears* to be a game asks permission to be downloaded and installed from www.gwutv.com or download.buddylinks.net. The programme then displays ads on the user's computer, sends a message to everybody on that person's Buddy List, and the cycle begins all over again for the new victims.
By installing Buddylinks you are giving the programme permission to "modify the instant messenger software, deliver additional content such as advertisements and promotional messages....In addition, the software will interoperate with your current instant messaging client so as to permit the automatic sending of advertising messages originating from your computer to your contact or 'buddy' list regarding content offered by PSD Tools [the company behind BuddyLinks] or its suppliers..." In addition, by installing Buddylinks you give PSD Tools permission to not only automatically update Buddylinks, but also "third party applications".
As a start, remove the software via Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs (Buddylinks, PSDT Messaging Integration and PSD Tools ChannelUp v1.0). The latest AdAware update (01R257) dated 15 February 2004 will detect and remove Buddylinks. I expect Spybot etc to follow suit.
The latest version of AOL Instant Messenger (5.5.3572) will protect you from this malware, and future inventions using the same trick.
An example of the Terms of Service, taken from an install of Buddylinks, is below. The Terms could, of course, change at any time at the whim of PSD Tools.
END USER AGREEMENT AND SOFTWARE LICENSE TERMS
BEFORE YOU CLICK ON THE ACCEPT BUTTON AT THE END OF THIS DOCUMENT, CAREFULLY READ ALL THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THIS AGREEMENT. BY CLICKING ON THE ACCEPT BUTTON, YOU ARE CONSENTING TO BE BOUND BY AND ARE BECOMING A PARTY TO THIS AGREEMENT. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO ALL OF THE TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT, CLICK THE “DO NOT ACCEPT” BUTTON AND DO NOT DOWNLOAD OR USE THIS SOFTWARE. PLEASE PRINT OUT A COPY OF THE TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT FOR YOUR FUTURE REFERENCE.
This PSD Tools End User Agreement (the “Agreement”) is a legal agreement between you and PSD Tools (“PSD Tools”). In this Agreement, the term “Software” means the “PSD Tools Instant Messenger Client”, including computer software and associated media and printed materials, and may include “online” or electronic documentation. The term “You” or “you” means the company, entity or individual who is acquiring the license to use the Software under this Agreement. The term “use” means storing, loading, installing, executing or displaying the Software. “Computer” means a single computer which is not a server.
License Grant - Usage in General. Except as otherwise specifically set forth below, (a) PSD Tools grants you and you accept the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to use the Software in object code form only, on a single Computer; and (b) you may not modify the Software or disable any licensing or control features of the Software. You acknowledge that the Software may contains software procedures or other mechanisms (“License Enforcement Mechanisms”) that enforce use restrictions and that may disable functionality of the Software and prevent access to data using the Software at the end of any evaluation period or upon violation of the terms of this Agreement.
Content. To the extent that the Software enables you to access (on-line or otherwise) materials, including goods and services, not supplied by PSD Tools (“Content”), you should be aware that such Content is the property of the applicable Content owner and may be protected by applicable copyright law. This License grants you no rights to Content. If any damages are incurred by PSD Tools, including but not limited to any fines, penalties, or legal costs, due to your failure to comply with any applicable restrictions on the access and use of the Content, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless PSD Tools and its suppliers and affiliates from and against any and all fines, penalties, losses, liabilities, damages, claims and costs (including reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs) arising out of or incurred as a result, directly or indirectly, of that failure. PSD Tools is not responsible for the Content and the use of the Software to access the Content does not act as an endorsement of any such Content. Your access to any Content is at your own risk.
Services; Modifications to Your Instant Messaging Client. The Software provides you the opportunity to access Content for no charge. In return for the right to access this Content, you acknowledge and agree that the Software contains additional software products provided to PSD Tools by its suppliers which will periodically deliver additional Content such as, but not limited to, advertisements and promotional messages to your Computer and programs that may alter your home page to offer you Content. In addition, the Software will interoperate with your current instant messaging client so as to permit the automatic sending of advertising messages originating from your Computer to your contact or “buddy” list regarding Content offered by PSD Tools or its suppliers. If you desire to stop this activity, you may elect to stop the messages by navigating to the “buddylinks.net” entry in your “Start Menu”, selecting the “buddylinks.net Configuration” item, and unchecking the appropriate option. You may also refer to PSD Tools’ website at http://www.psdtools.com for an uninstaller.
Updates to Software. The Software includes an automatic update feature to ensure that you have the most recently released version. You acknowledge and agree that PSD Tools or third parties designated by PSD Tools may from time to time provide automatic programming fixes, updates and upgrades to the Software (collectively, the “Updates”). Updates may include installation of third party applications, through automatic electronic dissemination and other means. You consent to such Updates and agree that the terms and conditions of this Agreement will apply to all such Updates. If you should elect not to have your software updated at any future time, PSD Tools shall not be responsible for any incompatibilities that may arise on your system and Computer.
Ownership. You acknowledge and agree that the Software is owned and copyrighted by PSD Tools or its third party suppliers. Your license confers no title or ownership in the Software and is not a sale of any rights in the Software. All ownership rights remain in PSD Tools or its third party suppliers, as the case may be.
Copies. You may only make one copy of the object code of the Software solely for backup or archival purposes or when copying is an essential step in the authorized use of the Software. You must reproduce all copyright and other proprietary or restricted rights notices in the original Software on all authorized copies. You may not copy any of the enclosed books or printed materials which are part of the Software.
Additional Restrictions. Except to the extent permitted above, you may not: permit other individuals to use the Software; permit concurrent use of the Software; modify, translate, reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble, or create derivative works based on the Software; copy (including copying onto a bulletin board or similar system) the Software other than as specified above; rent, lease, grant a security interest in, or otherwise transfer rights to the Software except as set forth in “Transfer” below; modify, disable, attempt to circumvent, or otherwise interfere with any License Enforcement Mechanisms (and you acknowledge that any attempt to do so may be a violation of applicable law) or remove any proprietary notices or labels on the Software. If you are using the Software in any country in the European Community, the prohibition against modifying, translating, reverse engineering, decompiling, disassembling or creating derivative works based on the Software does not affect your rights under any legislation implementing the E.C. Council Directive on the Legal Protection of Computer Programs.
Transfer. You may transfer your license to the Software only upon the terms of this section. You must deliver the original and all complete, partial or electronically stored copies of the Software and related documentation to the transferee. You may not retain any copies of the Software or related documentation, and any copies you have made which you have not transferred to the transferee you must destroy. The transferee must accept these Terms as a condition of the transfer. Your license will automatically terminate upon any transfer of the Software. You have no right to sublicense, loan, rent or lease the Software.
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES. THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED FREE OF CHARGE OR AT A NOMINAL COST, AND ACCORDINGLY IS PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT.
The entire risk as to the quality and performance of the Software is borne by you. Should the Software prove defective, you and not PSD Tools assume the entire cost of any service and repair. This disclaimer of warranty constitutes an essential part of this Agreement. SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW EXCLUSIONS OF AN IMPLIED WARRANTY, SO THIS DISCLAIMER MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU AND YOU MAY HAVE OTHER LEGAL RIGHTS THAT VARY BY JURISDICTION.
Because software is inherently complex and may not be completely free of errors, you are advised to verify and back up your work. Additionally, PSD Tools does not guarantee compatibility between the Software and any future versions of the Software.
LIMITATIONS ON LIABILITY. TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES AND UNDER NO LEGAL THEORY, TORT, CONTRACT, OR OTHERWISE, SHALL PSD TOOLS BE LIABLE TO YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON FOR ANY MONEY DAMAGES, WHETHER DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, COVER, RELIANCE OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, EVEN IF PSD TOOLS SHALL HAVE BEEN INFORMED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES, OR FOR ANY CLAIM BY ANY OTHER PARTY. IN THE EVENT THAT NOTWITHSTANDING THE FOREGOING, PSD TOOLS IS FOUND LIABLE TO YOU FOR DAMAGES FROM ANY CAUSE WHATSOEVER, AND REGARDLESS OF THE FORM OF THE ACTION (WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), PRODUCT LIABILITY OR OTHERWISE), PSD TOOLS’S LIABILITY TO YOU WILL BE LIMITED TO $1. SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OR LIMITATION OF INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, SO THIS LIMITATION AND EXCLUSION MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.
Export Controls. None of the Software or underlying information or technology may be downloaded or otherwise exported or reexported (i) into (or to a national or resident of) any country to which the U.S. has embargoed goods; or (ii) to anyone on the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals or the U.S. Commerce Department’s Table of Denial Orders. By downloading or using the Software, you are agreeing to the foregoing and you are representing and warranting that you are not located in, under the control of, or a national or resident of any such country or on any such list. In addition, you are responsible for complying with any local laws in your jurisdiction which may impact your right to import, export or use the Software, and you represent that you have complied with any regulations or registration procedures required by applicable law to make this license enforceable.
U.S. Government End Users. The Software is a “commercial item,” as that term is defined in 48 C.F.R. 12.101 (Oct. 1995), consisting of “commercial computer software” and “commercial computer software documentation,” as such terms are used in 48 C.F.R. 12.212 (Sept. 1995). Consistent with 48 C.F.R. 12.212 and 48 C.F.R. 227.7202-1 through 227.7202-4 (June 1995), all U.S. Government End Users acquire the Software with only those rights set forth herein
Term. Your license under this Agreement is effective until terminated. You may terminate this license at any time. PSD Tools may terminate this Agreement immediately if you breach any of the provisions of this Agreement. Upon any such termination or expiration, you must discontinue all use of the Software, and immediately uninstall the Software together with the destruction of all copies. The provisions of this Agreement (other than your license to use the Software) shall survive the termination of the license, or the termination or expiration of this Agreement.
Uninstalling the Software. In order to uninstall the Software, you will need to run the removal executable. You can get this program by contacting Support@PSDTools.com You may also be able to remove the program using any of the following methods:
Via “Add/Remove Programs”:
Click “Start”, Settings, Control Panel
Click “Add/Remove Programs”
Locate the “buddylinks.net Messaging Integration” option and click “Remove”.
Click “Yes” on the prompt.
Via a website link:
Navigate to http://www.buddylinks.net/uninstall.exe
Choose “Run” or “Open” when the download window appears.
The uninstallation process should take effect immediately though in rare cases it may be necessary to restart your Instant Messaging Client or computer.
Disabling the Software. You may also choose to leave the program on your computer but disable its behavior at any time:
Navigate to “Start”, “Programs”, “buddylinks.net”, “buddylinks.net Configuration”
Uncheck the “Use buddylinks.net technology to send fun links to my friends!” box, if checked
To re-enable the buddylinks.net technology, navigate to the same link, check the aforementioned box and click “Close”.
Changes should take effect immediately or, in rare cases, upon restart of your Instant Messaging Client or computer. If you experience difficulties with the Software or the uninstall process e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Controlling Law and Severability. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between you and PSD Tools with reference to this transaction. This Agreement will be governed by the laws of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA, except for that body dealing with conflicts of law. The application to this Agreement of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods is hereby expressly excluded. In the event of any dispute involving this Agreement, PSD Tools and you each consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in either the state or federal courts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and agrees that the prevailing party shall be entitled to its reasonable attorney fees and costs. In the event any provision of this Agreement shall be deemed unenforceable, void or invalid, such provision shall be modified so as to make it valid and enforceable, and as so modified the entire Agreement shall remain in full force and effect. No decision, action or inaction by PSD Tools shall be construed to be a waiver of any rights or remedies available to it.