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ITS Safe Computing

Security Alert! Marketscore Spyware Redirects Web Connections on Windows Computers

"Computer users should have the security of knowing their privacy isn't being violated by software parasites that have secretly burrowed into their hard drive."
--U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

On This Page:

What Is Spyware?

Spyware is surveillance software that is installed on a computer without the user's knowledge. If it is on your computer, whoever controls the spyware can gather information about you. You may not even know that spyware is on your computer -- it's bundled with games, screensavers, and peer-to-peer file-sharing programs including Bearshare, Kazaa, Imesh, Limewire, and many more.

Why Is Marketscore Spyware So Dangerous?

Marketscore claims to speed up Internet access, but it is actually spyware that compromises the security of the following Microsoft Windows operating systems: XP (all versions, regardless of service pack); 2000/2003 (all versions); NT 4.0; 95, 98, 98 SE, ME. Marketscore does not affect computers with Macintosh or Linux operating systems.

Marketscore collects all Web data by rerouting all incoming and outgoing Web traffic from a computer through its own servers. If Marketscore software is installed on your computer, this rerouting lets Marketscore monitor and collect all data you enter or receive via your Web browser, including:

  • Every keystroke you enter in a browser window, which could include your passwords, banking information, credit card numbers.
  • All of your Web-based e-mail - both message content and e-mail addresses.
  • Every Web page you access and all data on each Web page -- both regular html pages and secure https pages, such as data you are authorized to view in Wolverine Access.
  • All of your instant message exchanges.

Learn more about Marketscore including how Marketscore decrypts your secure transactions, how Marketcore uses your data, and the truth about Marketscore's claim to enhance your Web access.

How to Keep Marketscore Off Your Computer

First, check to see if Marketscore is on your computer. Search for ossproxy.exe and nscheck.exe. If you find either of these files, use the removal instructions in the next section, "What to Do if Marketscore Is on Your Computer." Then, use these safe computing tips to keep Marketscore off your computer:

  • Don't sign up for Marketscore. Many people knowingly install Marketscore because they think it will speed up their Internet access.
  • Be cautious when you download games, screensavers, Internet accelerators, or when you download or use peer-to-peer file-sharing programs. Many of these programs come with Marketscore and other "third-party" software included. Because Marketscore is bundled with unrelated software such as the Imesh file sharing program, you may not realize that this software is running on your machine.
  • Open the following Web page in a browser. It will tell you whether or not Marketscore is installed on the computer you are using:
  • Install or upgrade to McAfee VirusScan 8 to remove Marketscore from a Windows 2000 or XP computer. The U-M license agreement provides this software at no cost to members of the U-M community. You can download VirusScan 8 from the U-M Virus Busters Web site.
  • Install an antispyware and an antiadware program:

What to Do if Marketscore Is on Your Computer

Use one of the following methods to remove Marketscore if it is already installed on your computer:

  • Install Spybot-Search & Destroy software. It can detect and remove Marketscore software.
  • If you have installed McAfee VirusScan version 8, you can go to the McAfee Web site and use the instructions on how to use VirusScan 8 to remove Marketscore.
  • Follow these steps to use Windows 'Add or Remove Programs,' to remove Marketscore:
    1. Click Start, select Settings, and open the Control Panel.
    2. Double-click Add or Remove Programs.
    3. Locate the Marketscore installation, highlight it, and click Change or Remove.
  • Use the instructions provided by Columbia University to manually remove Marketscore.

Important! After you remove Marketscore, be sure to:

  • Change all passwords that you use to access services or accounts. Tips on choosing a safe password.
  • Check U-M's Identity Web to learn how you can protect your identity.
  • Use the safe computing tips in the preceding section, "How to Keep Marketscore Off Your Computer," to keep Marketscore off your computer.

U-M's Response to the Marketscore Issue

U-M is circulating information in the U-M community to increase awareness of Marketscore issues. U-M is also providing resources to aid in keeping Marketscore off both personal and University-owned computers, or to remove it if it is already installed.

If you use a University computer and only your system administrator can install software on it, it is probably not endangered. If you own the computer you use or if you can install software on the U-M computer you use, follow the recommendations in the previous section, "How to Keep Marketscore Off Your Computer," to ensure that your computer is protected from Marketscore and other malicious spyware and adware.

U-M's response to Marketscore includes a proactive approach to protect members of the U-M community and University data. Actions include blocking Internet access on computers that have Marketscore software installed. This block was implemented on February 21, 2005. If you use a computer with Marketscore installed, this action disrupts your Internet activity as follows:

  • If you connect to the Internet through a U-M network, you will not have access to any Internet resources. Your browser window will display a page that explains that your computer is infected with Marketscore and how you can remove it.
  • If you connect to the Internet through another network provider, you will not have access to any U-M Internet resources. Your browser window will display the standard "Page not found" information.

Schedule for Blocking Internet Access on Computers With Marketscore Installed

U-M Resources if You Need Help With Marketscore

If you need help with Marketscore, contact the computer support staff in your unit. In addition to this Safe Computing information about Marketscore, the following U-M resources are available to help U-M students, faculty, and staff.

More Information About Marketscore and Related Problems

Other Marketscore Information

Other Universities' Marketscore Sites