Yahoo Venturing into Spyware/Malware. Stay away from Yahoo Instant Messenger.

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Yahoo (with their Instant Messenger product), in apparent desperation, is treading the fine line between adware/malware and legitimate software. I think it has crossed the line. You decide.

First Yahoo updater automatically checks the internet for the new version and then nags you repeatedly and painfully till you submit. I was in a hurry. I simply clicked through their default options as fast as I could to get it over with and focus on my job. I didn’t like it one bit.
The result was horrendous. You are in for big nasty surprises.

It affects Internet Explorer, Firefox and more.

It changed my Firefox browser preferences to make Yahoo site as my default home page. It happened few times before I noticed.

It changed my search extensions to bring it as the default search engine, instead of Google. Now everytime I was searching I was presented with Yahoo search results which obviously is much poorer than Google.

Internet Explorer
It installed Yahoo toolbar in Internet Explorer.

It changed my autosearch settings in Internet Explorer. Not only that it will persistently nag you to change it back to Yahoo, if you manually or otherwise change the settings.

It installed tons of games and other junk for which I have absolutely no use ever.

I am sure it did other changes but I was frustrated enough already.

Update: I found several other changes to the system, too numerous to list. More later on how to remove them.

And then comes the crown jewel.

Not only all that but now it has accessed all my contact information from MS Outlook and displays them in the messenger. I wouldn’t be surprised if it decides to use them for touting its product and services. I have seen enough to believe that it is a strong possibility.

That was the final straw. I promptly uninstalled Yahoo Messenger with all its accessories.

And all this punishment was simply because I was tired of its nagging and was forced to upgrade my Yahoo Instant Messenger.

The solution to their intrusions is simple:
Uninstall their programs individually from Control Panel/Add Remove Programs.

Deny Yahoo Updater access to the internet using your Firewall. Use ZoneAlarm if you need a free firewall.

Uninstall Yahoo toolbar by using their uninstall link.

Update: All of the above doesn’t fully clear your system of yahoo junk. Use HijackThis utility to clean the rest.

Solution to their services:
Use Google or any other IM for IM needs. Request your friends to do so. Otherwise you can use any Jabber clients like neos.

Update: If you want to stick with Yahoo IM, use Trillian (free version available) instead. I have switched to Trillian thanks to suggestions in the comments below.

Use Skype instead of Yahoo’s voice services.

Note: I haven’t exhaustively checked if they have kept any remaining traces of their intrusive software on my hard-drive. You can be rest assured I will check and you will hear about it if they did.

Update: As I informed above it does make several other changes to the system which will be apparent when you run HijackThis utility.

Ben Edelman previously wrote about how Yahoo! funds spyware by allowing it’s ads to be syndicated to notorious spyware miscreants.

Update: I realized already reported about Yahoo’s Spyware tactics. Here are further details:

By accepting Yahoo’s “typical” installation of YIM with Voice, it will also download Yahoo’s Search Toolbar with anti-spyware and anti-pop-up software, desktop and system tray shortcuts, as well as Yahoo Extras, which will insert Yahoo links into the Internet Explorer browser. The IM client also contains “live words,” which will automatically show an icon when the user highlights words online and then hyperlink to Yahoo search results, definitions or translation tools. Finally, the installation will alter the users’ home page and auto-search functions to point to Yahoo by default.

To avoid these changes, users must actively choose the “custom” installation and uncheck five boxes.

Most people, unlike me, wouldn’t notice most of these changes and would quickly become adapted to their inferior services.

“There are a ridiculously high number of people who never budge off the default,” Everett-Church said, a principal at privacy consultancy PrivacyClue.

Can you imagine Yahoo sinking so low?

Nick W from Threadwatch was very eloquent:

Yahoo’s Evil Spyware Tactics

What the fuck is going on with you guys? All that hard work over the last year or so to build reputation, and getting your mojo back and now it’s all going to waste over stupid, evil tactics that should have been laughed out of the marketing room for the insane idiocy that they surely are.


As far as I am concerned Yahoo IM is now ranked with other spyware/adware/malware in my book.

Shame on you Yahoo!


Kalpesh from India
August 24, 2008: 4:40 am

Hi there !
Just open notepad and leave it blank, that save as it “yupdater.exe”
Copy that file and paste it at C:\Program Files\Yahoo!\Messenger (c or any drive where your OS installed).
It will ask you to replace file say yes.
You have done !!!!!

April 3, 2008: 12:40 pm

Try pidgin for Linux, works like a charm!

April 3, 2008: 9:53 am

I have quite a bit of experience with Yahoo messenger because many of my friends are using it. I used to prefer MSN messenger over it, but even that was bad. Both of these programs have ADS. In Yahoo Messenger Webcam feature and the contact window there’s ads flaoting around… very annoying.

For Windows Live Messenger I recommend aMSN as an alternative, however for Yahoo Messenger I don’t have an alternative, so I dropped Yahoo altoghether, especially since I noticed the huge amount of SPAM I was getting on my yahoo account.

I tried Gyachi on Linux as an alternative for Yahoo Messenger, and it works nice (no spam, no ADS), but it has no (or poor) video/voice support, probably because it hasn’t been updated in a while.

On the other hand… Skype is great, and you don’t get spam.

July 14, 2007: 5:55 pm

winge winge winge…. honestly people! ive used yahoo im for yrs. The early days yahoo wasnt too stable but its great now, i prefer it over any other chat. use the custom install and you choose what it installs. i use google as my search engine and that works fine? can share photos or transfer files with out any greif. video chat is brilliant. perhaps you lot just dont know what you are doing?
hegubar w.a.

May 21, 2007: 11:25 pm

I uninstalled yahoo messenger and all the other crap it came with…and then my computer couldn’t run Windows anymore! How’s -that- for malware/spyware/virus?

June 8, 2006: 10:46 am

That was my experience exactly. Fortunately, every time it asked me if I wanted to update, I said No. I’d hide the toolbar, but when I reopened IE, there it was again — with a thousand links to a thousand things I ain’t interested in.

It was so bad it got me to dump IE and use Firefox. At least I’m glad of that.

Does anyone think this change in Yahoo has something to do with AT&T getting involved?


June 6, 2006: 10:07 am

I used Yahoo uninstaller to get rid of the toolbar. When it finished, Norton popped up and said someone was trying to install malware to my computer. Yahoo perhaps.


February 3, 2006: 4:03 pm

This Yahoo thing is insidious! I installed Yahoo IM and it changed everything it touched! My Firefox browser’s right click web search defaults to Yahoo’s uncrediby poor search engine. Their search engine is so bad, it is shocking! Why do they even bother? Anyway, I uninstalled everything related to Yahoo from my system and my browser right click still defaulted to Yahoo (I hope someone is making obscene amounts of monney off this trickery otherwise it is just stupid). I finally had to install Context Search 0.2.1 for Firefox as an extension. Yahoo screwed me over and I never forget!

November 21, 2005: 11:18 pm

It doesn’t uninstall when I instruct it to do so. It makes it impossible to uninstall several components of software which ruin my browsing experience.

And I am informed it installs itself even when users choose not to install the “malware” components. And it is definitely wrong intent by installing malware as part of default installation which most users choose “by default”.

As for your scanner you need to get one that makes proper detection. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck …. then it is a duck in my definition. Yahoo fits perfectly into that.

Read the other readers experiences above. They aren’t pretty.

November 21, 2005: 6:50 pm

Yahoo is not adware/malware. You talk about it “installing the toolbar in my browser”, enough of that, you are given a choice of custom installation when installing! It is a simple install or do not install tick box, I did not install and it is working quite well! I ran a scan that scans trojans, viruses, spyware, malware, adware, any malicious content, and it scans deeply, Yahoo returned negative for anything malicious.

November 7, 2005: 10:58 am

I thought I was the only one facing this problem! I’ve tried everything. Gone through the basics. Uninstalled everything Yahoo. Used the Firefox scripts (user.js) but Yahoo search still wont leave my browser!
Can’t believe Yahooligans are so fuckin desperate. This is LOW!

September 12, 2005: 10:18 am

[...] I read with interest a post on Angsuman’s site this morning that Yahoo!’s new Instant Messanger application, when installed using the default settings on your system, will change your systems settings and install various applications on your hard drive unasked. [...]

September 12, 2005: 1:06 am

[...] Bonnie discovers some facts which thankfully contradict some recent rumors about events that hopefully did not occur in the Memorial Convention Center. Michael Heilemann discusses his frustration with bloggers who use Feedburner to combine their feeds. Khaled reviews The Authority: Revolution. Michael Hampton is not pleased with David Coursey’s proposal to impose a national firewall. Jon reviews the iPod nano. Sarah publishes two of her research papers discussing disasters in art and distinguishing alchemy from science. Chris publishes a quick tip on how to navigate hidden folders via the Finder in MacOS X. Angsuman discovers spyware/malware in Yahoo Instant Messenger. Mark discovers that Gmail’s “From:” field can now be customized. And, Tom discusses the benefits of podcasting for businesses. [...]

September 8, 2005: 8:28 pm

It does support Yahoo & AIM. I was geting more optimistic and was also looking to replace Google IM :)
In any case it works really well with Yahoo & AIM.

All in all they have a good mix of free versus paid features.

September 8, 2005: 7:53 pm

Hm, the Trillian Pro vs. Basic feature comparison chart shows that Trillian basic supports all Yahoo IM features except video chat. You will, however, need the Pro version to use Jabber. MirandaIM does look like a good alternative. I’m not much of a PC user, so the only one that I knew of was Trillian.

September 8, 2005: 1:16 am

@MacManx & Phil
Trillian doesn’t support plugins in free version. So no Google IM or Jabber on Trillian as long as you are free :)

A better free option, without the classiness of Trillian, on Windows is probably Miranda IM.

September 7, 2005: 10:51 am

Thanks James (MacManx) & Phil.

I used to use Trillian before. I was satisfied at that time. Later on I switched due to undue insistence of my old boss :)

Will use it now. I am simply fed-up with Yahoo IM.

@Phil I didn’t know Trillian supported Jabber & Google too. That is cool.

September 7, 2005: 8:04 am

If you use Trillian (from Cerulean Studios) you can talk to your IM buddies on Yahoo (and MSN and AIM and ICQ and Jabber / Google) from a single client with no adware. So you can abandon the miserable mainstream IM clients without having to abandon your contacts. There’s a free and pro version. I have found the video features flaky in my personal use, but for regular text chat and multi-service interoperability it’s a great product.

September 7, 2005: 2:07 am

If you still need to access Yahoo’s chat network, use a third-party multi-protocol instant messaging application, like Adium (Mac) or Trillian (PC).

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