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Old adware habits hard to break for AT&T and Travelocity

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

AT&T Wireless and Travelocity have continued to pay for ads that get served up by some of the net's more notorious networks despite a legally binding promise to refrain from pitching crud to web denizens.

Adware buster Ben Edelman came to that conclusion after meticulously documenting ads being displayed on computers sullied by some of the web's most despised adware. Edelman came upon ads for Cingular (recently acquired by AT&T) and Travelocity while visiting the Google home page and other sites on PCs infected with ad injectors from Deskwizz, Web Nexus, TargetSaver and Fullcontext.

(As always, your reporter will offer his gratitude for any examples readers may provide of ads promoting, or being served by, adware, spyware or other net scum.)

After being spanked by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Cingular and Travelocity, along with Priceline, agreed in January to pay fines and ensure their ads were no longer carried by software that is secretly installed or is difficult to remove. Cuomo determined the companies had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting DirectRevenue, another network accused of parasitic practices.

Edelman provides six screen shots taken in February and March that show ads from Cingular and Travelocity that were served by scumware, and he says he has plenty more where those came from. He offers loads of URLs and packet logs that trace the origins of the intrusive banners to naughty networks.

AT&T Wireless and Travelocity both say they are taking Edelman's report seriously and are investigating the claims. They also reiterated their strict policies against working with adware companies. (Taking them at their word, it would appear they suffered a brief lapse in their rehabilitation.)

To Priceline's credit, Edelman found none of its ads being served by adware - proof, he says, that AT&T and Travelocity "could do better if they put forth appropriate effort". His report is here. ®

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