These days almost every developer of a widget or a gadget tells us they are targeting MySpace – so why should malware makers be different? Vitalsecurity.org has written a long article this morning on a company called Zango that offers free videos and games for MySpace but requires installation of a Zango Search Assistant and Toolbar as part of the use of the videos. That toolbar serves up ads.
Christopher Boyd of Vitalsecurity argues that this is particularly pernicious because it exploits the trust that MySpace’s young users have for the MySpace admin. He believes that a popup while on MySpace asking for permission to do anything will be presumed to originate from MySpace officially. This could well be.
This is, of course, only the newest addition to the small army of services becoming available to mine the huge userbase that is MySpace for shady commercial purposes. I know I get friend requests from fake, or at least very shallow seeming, women all the time – and I don’t think it’s because they saw my name on TechCrunch.
Pop-ups and adware are probably one of the most hated parts of the web for PC/IE users and the direction that this could take MySpace is truly terrible. MySpace themselves really ought to deal with this before the site’s reputation takes another big hit.
This also has the potential to damage the reputation of MySpace widgets and gadgets in general. How possible is it that users will simply stop embedding video from off site if the practice becomes associated with the installation of adware? The specific details are almost not even important, there is a real risk of guilt by association.