Students take on Scumware
By paul
Two high school students are fighting back against scumware, and there are many online gamblers who will salute their endeavours. The two students, Jay Cross Jr. and Christopher Caroino, are trying to find the people behind Xupiter spyware software. Spyware is often referred to as scumware for obvious reasons – it is irritating to Internet users because of the unsolicited popup ads it inflicts on the user, as well as often collecting info on surfing habits.

Carlino and Cross recently signed a pending class action suit against Xupiter, along with other users whose computers were infected with the spyware.

But Carlino and Cross have also taken on research for the case. 'In the greater scheme of things Xupiter may not seem like a big deal, but we believe that people should care about the little everyday injustices,' said Cross. 'Little problems can quickly turn into big issues.'

Xupiter makes alterations to the users’ Internet Explorer browser, including to the IE toolbar. It then resets users' homepages to, redirects all searches to Xupiter's site, and blocks any attempts to restore the original browser settings.

Xupiter also attempts to download updates each time an affected computer boots up, and is thought to be responsible for system crashes. Some versions of Xupiter appear to download other programs, such as gambling games, which later appear in pop-up windows.

Xupiter is bundled with some file-sharing programs, and many websites offer it as a download. But some users say they never authorised the installation of Xupiter. Another complaint is that Xupiter is difficult to uninstall.

'Both of us became infected with Xupiter about a year or so ago,' said Carlino. 'We neither agreed to nor authorized an installation of this software; we just found it on our PCs. We were furious and frustrated. After trying for hours to manually delete Xupiter -- a difficult task for even PC experts -- we turned to Web forums for advice.'

'Judging by the 25,000-some odd posts on SpywareInfo alone, I'd say quite a few people are pretty ticked off about Xupiter,' said Cross. 'And we've been told that hundreds of people every week want to get in on the lawsuit.'

The litigants are now looking for legal representation, and anticipate filing the suit within a week.

Cross and Carlino have contacted Xupiter's owners Saeid Yomtobian and his son Daniel. 'In a telephone call with Saeid, we were blasted with profanity so terrible that we don't want to repeat it,' said Cross.

'As far as Dan Yomtobian goes, we had one real phone communication with this man, who said he was not available for comment, and then hung up on us as we were giving him contact information for his legal counsel to use. This was our last talk with him before he cancelled his cellular telephone number.'

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