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Does anyone know if Messenger Plus contains any spyware? Is it relatively safe to install at work?

EDIT:

For those people that are telling me to ask the IT department: I am the IT department. Some people have requested to use it, and I needed to see other opinions so that I can make a better decision on where there to allow it.

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Is it worth potentially losing your job for? Make it easy on yourself and ask your IT department. –  Nifle Dec 1 '09 at 17:17
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Does anyone know if Messenger Plus contains any spyware?

That's a matter of opinion; it depends on what you call ‘spyware’.

Messenger Plus bundles an obnoxious always-on adware component (the ‘Sponsor Program’) run by ‘CiD’ or ‘C2 Media’, a company with a very shady past of deceptive bundling and drive-by-downloads. You can choose not to install the Sponsor Program at install-time, which I highly recommend, but for me it taints msgplus by association.

The Sponsor Program hides under randomly-generated and mutating names to try to avoid being detected and removed as malware, such as:

O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [DUMB SITE] "C:\ProgramData\tworoamroam.jfj7w4"
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [SEND BALM CREATIVE INTRA] "C:\ProgramData\way proc locks.cs6cm0t"

and refuses to uninstall without an connection and captcha. The Sponsor Program is a nasty piece of work which I wouldn't run on any machine let alone a corporate workstation, but does it count as spyware? It does connect to its controlling server to report stats and download updates, but I haven't observed it leaking browsed URLs or keystrokes.

Is it relatively safe to install at work?

Without the Sponsor Program, maybe. Messenger Plus will also send back statistics about how you use the program itself, which can also be turned off.

But even ignoring the optional horribleness that you'll have to make sure the employees don't forget to disable, is this the kind of software you want running in your business? A load of wacky skins and emoticons and funny noises? I suggest it is a frivolous waste of time that can serve no purpose for your company.

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Good point, thank you for the great answer. –  7wp Dec 8 '09 at 16:28
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I always preferred Pidgin when I worked places that allowed external IM.

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Or any other IM client. You can only do so much with the travesty that is WLM. –  Phoshi Dec 1 '09 at 17:45
    
I second Pidgin, its open source and cross platform, what else do you need/want? –  Nathan Adams Dec 5 '09 at 2:51
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Does anyone know if Messenger Plus contains any spyware?

no

Is it relatively safe to install at work?

that depends on you company's security policy, discuss this with your IT department.

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just received a downvote for this post. if you have information that Messenger Plus DOES indeed contain spyware it would be a valuable contribution and very much appreciated. –  Molly7244 Dec 4 '09 at 21:36
    
AVG Anti-virus reports the "Circle Development" Uninstall.exe file to be a virus "Downloader.Swizzor". (that's how I got to this SuperUser Question). IMHO Any software that uses ads/tracking must explicitly indicate this on install and not use shady tactics to "hide" the software or its actions. If not, its adware/spyware and it gets the boot. –  scunliffe Feb 6 '10 at 1:53
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