Anti-Virus Company Removes Porn Dialer From Index

Anti-Virus Company Removes Porn Dialer From Index
Jeff Berg
CYBERSPACE — Anti-virus firm Sophos announced yesterday that it had removed a porn dialer application from its list of detected viruses and malware.

The United Kingdoms-based company said that it had removed the Coulomb dialer from its virus index based upon legal recommendations.

The program, produced by Coulomb Ltd., was offered as a payment option on several different adult-oriented websites. When downloaded and installed, the program changes user preferences to dial premium rate pay-per-call services through the computer’s modem.

The dialer was classified as a Trojan horse by Sophos and is still listed as malware on several competing anti-virus indexes, including Symantec Security Response.

Coulomb Ltd., the company that produced the dialer, said that the application did exactly what it claimed to do and informed users of the implications of installing it.

“This is no more a Trojan horse than a big wooden horse with a sign that says, ‘Greek Soldiers Inside,’” said David Knell, CEO of Coulomb.

According to the eTrust PestPatrol Pest Encyclopedia, the dialer is often run by ActiveX controls placed on adult-oriented websites. ETrust lists the program as a critical threat, stating, “After the control is installed, any webpage has the ability to run any executable file on the local machine.”

The issue of premium pay numbers and dialers was raised in a Jun. 29 meeting of the United Kingdoms Parliament by Sir George Young, where the idea of a total ban on premium rate numbers was contemplated to deal with the mounting problems of telephone fraud in Britain.

According to the Register, an IT-oriented news site, end users and resellers are upset over the removal of the Coulomb dialer from Sophos’ index.

“I’m pretty disappointed that the latest virus release has been butchered to remove the detection of Coulomb’s dialers,” wrote one reseller. “Sophos is used in networks. Network users should never have a reason to download a dialer.”