Savvy Duck Alerts
Fun Web Products and My Web Search
|While repairing and cleaning computers in the past few months, I've found that certain pieces of malware have become so widespread that many people have it without even knowing it. Fun Web Products and My Web Search from iWon are prime examples of these pieces of malicious software. But are they really malicious? That is a matter of some debate, and I will explain why in this article.|
Method of Attack
Fun Web Products and some of iWon's other more specific software offerings are usually obtained through three methods. The first is downloading the software directly from their website and purposefully installing it, which is somewhat common because the software appears legit, and in some cases it may actually be legit. The second method is through bundling with other pieces of legit software. That's right, some software that you download and install actually comes with iWon's products right along with them. Like many other pieces of malware, the permission for installing it is buried in the egregiously long license agreements for the software that it comes with. The third method is more complex. A lot of free software comes with ads that say you can enhance it by installing an additional update or patch or companion program. This additional software can actually be Fun Web Products or a portion thereof. For example, a chat program might offer you enhanced smiley images if you download extra software, and Fun Web Products might be the software that gives you those extra smilies.
The My Web Search main screen
Is it legit?
Historically, no. In the past, Fun Web Products has been composed of very malicious software that embeded itself into your computer in ways that could make it very difficult to remove, and by use of its companion software, My Web Search, took over your web browsers to feed you ads and track your browsing. More recently, iWon claims that they have converted the software to a legit business model and, for example, it no longer tracks you online. Indeed, many pieces of antivirus and antimalware software no longer consider it to be malicious and ignore it completely, and in many cases, the software can be removed using the normal "Programs and Features" tool inside your computer's control panel. However, there is a lot of debate concerning the voracity of iWon's claims. Some claim that the tracking still exists, and permission for it is now buried in the software's license agreement. I have personally encountered some computers where the software has been completely hidden from the user's view except for the My Web Search toolbar and browser settings, which can come back if removed. I have very rarely encountered an instance of this software being easy to remove, and I have even been hired through my computer repair services specifically to remove the software when the computer's owner could not, so I would take iWon's claims with a grain of salt.
The best form of prevention is to be careful what you download. Don't download Fun Web Products, My Web Search, or other products from iWon directly, and don't allow other programs to download or install it for you. These methods aren't 100% effective since it often comes silently bundled with other software that you install, but unless you want to read miles of license agreements, it's really the best you can do.
What if I already have the software?
Not to fear! It can cause problems on your computer, but it is relatively benign compared to other pieces of malware, so it can frequently be removed without too much trouble. First, try removing it through your "Programs and Features" control panel. Remove Fun Web Products, My Web Search, and anything else that says iWon on it. If you're lucky, that's all you have to do. If your not, a more thorough cleaning will be required. Contact me if you want assistance with this, as in most cases, I can effectively remove this software through my remote support service, or if you are in Western Oregon, in person at my office or at your location.