FTC Takes Aim at Windows Pop-Up Spam

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is set to air concerns Thursday over exploitation of a service in Microsoft's Windows software that is designed to allow network administrators to send notices to users.

The Windows Messenger Service, which is normally used for sending information such as messages that print jobs have been completed, is being targeted by third-parties to send pop-up spam.

The problem can even arise when consumers are using other applications, such as word processing, while connected to the Internet, the FTC said in a statement.

The FTC has scheduled a press conference for 11:00 a.m. Eastern time in Washington, D.C. Thursday to address consumer concerns about the service. The agency said that it will also provide details on how consumers can avoid the problem.

Making Changes

Last month, Microsoft executives announced that they had plans to disable the Messenger Service on Windows XP machines and activate the Internet Connection Firewall by default to protect computers from the attacks. The changes are slated for release in Windows XP Service Pack 2.

However, company representatives have said that they have not ruled out the possibility of shutting down the service earlier.

Enough users have been reporting the pop-up spam problem that Microsoft Internet rival America Online has even gone so far as to shut off the Windows Messenger Service feature of AOL subscribers without informing them ahead of time.

AOL said last month that its call centers began receiving a large number of complaints about the problem last year, soon after spammers discovered that they could exploit the feature.

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