Users warned after YapBrowser returns from the dead

Old Zango ad browser pops up again

YapBrowser, a replacement web browser once promoted by controversial spyware company Zango, has made a sudden return, GFI Software security researcher Chris Boyd has reported.

Zango (formerly 180 Solutions) disappeared in 2009 after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) landed it with a $3 million fine but one now one of its progeny, YapBrowser, appears to have resurrected itself, possibly with the help of a UK-registered company.

The old YapBrowser - the original program from 2006 - was what some experts termed 'crapware', a useless program that made elaborate but false claims as a security product but in fact benefitted nobody other than its creators. It didn't install malware but adopted some of the behaviour of spyware, specifically redirecting Internet searches to ads.

Boyd reports that the latest incarnation appears to clone the old executable's behaviour, right down to its end user license agreement wording and the mention of long-dead domains once used to contact its creators.

The claims are much the same as in 2006 and equally ludicrous.

"Download YapBrowser for free and forget about getting to sites containing harmful exploits. Your computer will be free from viruses breeding online," reads the blurb on the software's distribution domain reachable as the second entry on Google.

Users are not advised to download the program.

"Seeing this site lurch back into life, looking identical to how it did back in 2006 and with the browser download following close behind is quite a shock," says Boyd. Our advice would be to stick with another browser. Like their highly appropriate slogan says: "Don't waste your time".

Despite exiting history, Zango's excesses, including a bizarre suit against antivirus vendors McAfee and PC Tools, had the positive effect of drawing the US FTC's attention to the way consumers were being tricked into installing useless and potentially dubious software with bogus claims and features.

Whichever entity is behind the latest YapBrowser, they have gone to the small effort of giving it a marketing entry on Wikipedia.

"We can assure you that the new YapBrowser download does not contain any hidden software, spy-ware, ad-ware or any harmful applications. We will be regularly checking the software and updating," reads the entry, hopefully.

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John E Dunn

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