Server List: See Stephen Martin's Hosts File List (Conducent /Timesink Group)
Software List: The Spyware List by Lavasoft www.lavasoft.de has more info on Conducent/Timesink and a list of software containing the Timesink module. Find it in their Freeware section.
Warning: If installation of software embedded with Conducent Timesink is terminated by not agreeing with the EULA, Timesink will install itself without the software host. If host software containing Timesink has been fully installed and then uninstalled, all Timesink components and Registry entries may not be removed. Conducent does not provide users with an uninstall feature.
About Conducent: www.conducent.com/index_static.html
The default version of the Conducent site has changed to Macromedia Flash format. Links listed on this page lead to alternative HTML pages.
Conducent provides a Software Developers Kit used to embed advertising in software, converting it to "free" adware. Their proprietary SoftClick Optimization Engine then provides real-time ad targeting campaigns through the main Timesink component (TSadbot.exe).
"Conducent's advanced technology dynamically delivers and rotates linkable advertising and Internet functionality to each enabled software application. Conducent then retrieves valuable user and campaign activity information and maintains a comprehensive system for campaign management and reporting."
Conducent's Timesink is not only found in "free" adware. Strategic partners in the Conducent Affiliate Network include CD-Rom distributors as well as online distributors. For instance, buyers of off-the-shelf software by eGames www.egames.com have been unpleasantly surprised to find Timesink installed along with their purchases.
From a Conducent Affiliate "Case Study" www.conducent.com/software/casestudies.html: "eGames is one of the leading software game publishing companies in the world with dozens of titles and extensive online and retail distribution through: Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, eToys and many more. With the explosion of the Internet, eGames turned to Conducent to enhance its business and Internet initiative by increasing revenue, e-commerce promotion and gaining vital real-time customer information."
For an interesting read about the relationship of Marty Schoffstall, chairman & CEO of Conducent, to Timesink, PSINet and Epicenter, here's a GRC Opt Out Newsgroup post by "pchelp" that's also a good lesson in using search & tracking utilities.
Links & News
Advertising Spyware: TSADBOT cexx.org/tsadbot.htm
I wish I'd known about the Counterexploitation page before I did this one. Lots of good info and Bill's email "Nastygram Volleyball with Conducent's lying-like-dogs PR stiffs" had me laughing (wouldn't have been laughing if it had been me though!). This is a page from the framed Counterexploitation cexx.org site (pulled for easy access here).
April 18, 2000: www.corel.com/news/2000/april/april_18_2000.htm
Corel and Conducent Partner to Release No-Charge
Version of Corel® WordPerfect® Suite 8: "Corel Corporation and Conducent, Inc. have announced an agreement which will put an advertising-supported version of Corel® WordPerfect® Suite 8 on the desktops of millions of computer users at no extra charge. The Corel WordPerfect Suite 8 OEM, packaged with interactive advertising, is being bundled with more than 10 million new computers shipped worldwide. This no-charge version of Corel WordPerfect Suite 8 OEM includes core applications such as
Corel® WordPerfect® 8, Corel® Quattro® Pro 8 and Corel® PresentationsTM 8 as well as a number of bonus applications." (I guess they consider NetZip Download Demon spyware a bonus.)
Warning: Corel's free downloads page www.corel.com/freebies/cwpfreebies.htm does not indicate the software is adware! Corel Presentations and Corel WordPerfect are known to include Conducent Timesink. CorelDRAW and all other software on the Corel free downloads page is suspect. Contact Corel before bothering with a mega-download. The Press Release above notes additional unmarked Corel suspects.
I've seen reports that Corel Presentations 8 contains NetZip Download Demon. All Corel software should be checked for the presence of this spyware. For more info on NZDD, see Steve Gibson's Downloaders page: grc.com/downloaders.htm.
Privacy Contact: email@example.com
Software Partners: www.conducent.com/software/clients.html
"Conducent has partnered with more than 200 software developers, including premium companies like Corel; eGames; PKWare (PKZip); CoffeeCup (Free HTML); GlobalSCAPE (CuteFTP); and DT link (Personal Stock Monitor)."
"Conducent has partnered with top Web sites and portals to distribute its ad-enabled software, including Lycos, ZDNet, Winsite, Rocket Download, Netdownload and Moneyweb."
"Conducent has formed strategic partnerships with most of the major internet advertising networks, including 24/7 Media, RealMedia, DoubleClick and Engage." Others include Ad Outlet, Cybereps, One Media Place, and Venture Direct.
Numerous posts about blocking Timesink operations have been made to newsgroups and listserves. Using host software while blocking Timesink is not recommended, may be illegal, may cause host software to run erratically, and may be ineffective.
Caution: "...if the AdBot is thwarted in its attempts to connect to Conducent by a firewall or other controls [...] It starts to attempt to connect continually, about 10 times/second causing a huge load on local network facilities. If it can't connect even then, it tries to connect using Telnet and other ports with the background AdBot retrying the HTTP connects after several hours." (Ref: Debate Mailing List Archives, Univ of Mannheim, Computing Center - www.fitug.de/debate/9911/msg00356.html)
Methods found online include: Moving the Timesink directory from C:\Program Files\TimeSink to another location; preventing Timesink from running at start by using Start | Run | MSCONFIG, then unchecking the Timesink agent on the startup tab; disallowing TSadbot.exe from connecting by use of a personal firewall; and identifying and using the Timesink Uninstaller that might have been installed along with Timesink (Ref: Cookie Central Message Board - cookiecentral.com/board/messages/4711.html).
Warning: Host software should be uninstalled before removing Timesink. Removing Timesink without removing host software may cause host software to stop working.
Timesink can be removed with Lavasoft's free AD-aware utility (see Spyware links). It cannot be removed by Steve Gibson's free OptOut! utility.
Timesink can be removed manually but it's recommended for die-hards only. Use AD-aware instead. It's easier and it's kept up to date with Timesink revisions. Die-hards can read the manual uninstall directions here....
July 24: Thanks to "Stephen B." who passed along the info on Addon2VB.dll (Conducent Technologies Inc.), found with other TimeSink files after install of eGames Collector's Edition CD; Aug 02: Thanks to "Bengt-Olov" for correcting the last two Registry keys in step 4 of the section on removing Timesink.
Updated: Sept 27-00
Quoted excerpts are © Conducent unless otherwise noted.
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