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Message Mates (and similar
products, Screen Mates & ScreenMovies) are a series of software programs
Inc., "The World Leader in Internet Desktop Marketing Tools" (blech),
and distributed by Message Mates .com. Historically, these programs, notorious
for being passed around as .EXE email attachments (didn't people learn
from Melissa?), display a humorous presentation followed by one or more
ad-banners. These banners would be statically embedded into the Message
Mate application and take the viewer to a predefined Web page if clicked.
New versions of Message Mates,
however, have taken on the characteristics of Spyware
modules, silently connecting to the Internet
when run and exchanging information with a remote server. This is done
without informing the user and may
a GUID to aid in tracking individual users*.
The Message Mate software tested displayed an animated presentation, followed by a screen of advertisements. Upon closing the program, it attempted to initiate an Internet connection to an external server. The program also tried to "phone home" when clicking a button that displays AdTools'
Thanks Edward for the heads-up re Message Mates' new capabilities.
It would appear there IS indeed a GUID--or at the very least, some or all Message Mates will add keys to your Registry when run. Ed shares the following AdTools, Inc. keys found in his system Registry after viewing Message Mates on the system. The entry marked in red appears to be a tracking GUID, and the rest are double-word (numeric) values containing program preferences and history.
One of the Registry keys
contains a reference to ice9, an "interactive multimedia desktop
microsite" (minibrowser) that comes along with some AdTools presentations.
Its spooky purpose, including references to "Complex tracking" and "data
collections forms" is
here. The name ice9 itself is stolen from a Kurt
Vonnegut novel, and coincidentally(?), is also the name of a rather
"All trademarks are hereby
acknowledged as the property of their respective owners." So don't even
THINK about suing me :)