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Wednesday
Feb212007

Cookies, Imrworldwide, and Nielsen Netratings: What's the Connection?

By Dennis D. McDonald

This morning while running SPYSWEEPER on my computer I discovered (and then quarantined) a cookie named “imrworldwide.com.” On doing some research I found that typing in the URL “www.imrworldwide.com” into my browser switched me immediately to “www.nielsen-netratings.com.” But I can find no reference on the Nielsen site to this cookie.

I then find this cookie might be associated with an Australian entity named “redsheriff.com” that has been linked (I use the phrase “has been linked” intentionally to indicate I don’t really know if any of this is true) with spyware that may send data on personal web surfing behavior to a server application; use of this system has been linked publicly with organizations such as the BBC.

How concerned should I be about this type of spyware? I run SPYSWEEPER once per week. Should I be doing this more frequently?

Copyright (c) 2007 by Dennis D. McDonald. Dennis is a Washington DC area consultant specializing in project management, digital strategy, and technology adoption. He has been involved with data collection, management, and analysis projects involving survey and statistical data, demographics, text and image retrieval, database conversion and consolidation, customer support, controlled vocabularies and full text, financial data systems, industrial & manufacturing systems, and social media metrics. His clients have included General Electric, Ford, American International Group, Whirlpool, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the US Environmental Protection Agency, Jive Software, the National Library of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, Social Media Today and Oracle, and the World Bank Group. Contact Dennis via email at ddmcd@yahoo.com or by phone at 703-402-7382. His website is here: http://www.ddmcd.com

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Reader Comments (33)

Dennis,

First of all, let me say I haven't done any research into the particulars of imrwordwide.com, though I have heard the name redsheriff.com before, and in the similar context.

Second, while cookies are a privacy concern, they are rarely a security concern. Software such as Spy Sweeper pick them up as a minor concern because cookies can be used to track where you're going on the internet and can contain personal information, they are not going to lead to a compromise of our system. I think a program like Spy Sweeper makes them sound like they're a lot more worrisome than they really are because it makes them sound like they're doing something. Cookies are almost always be part of your web surfing, unless you turn them off, which breaks a lot of web sites functionality.

Which is all a long winded way of saying let Spy Sweeper clean this cookie off your system but don't be too concerned.

Martin
February 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMartin McKeay
Mt Martin Mckeay- Are you off your rocker? So you think "Can contain personal information" is not serious at all? You must be a competitor of Spy sweep!! Spy Sweep says it and the 207.net cookie are notthreatening, but have you tried to get 207 out of your computer? You like the chance of the information that sites get from you? after doing searches of different areas, I have, alot of time, suddenly get email from other web sites that I haven't been to? So--you think all cookies are not bad?-- SDo I suggest you keep remarks to yourself!
July 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJackie B Miller
For the security-conscious, I would suggest using Mozilla (Firefox 3) browser with "Clear personal data on exit" (cache and cookies), and some 3rd party add-ins loaded.

I use FlashBlock to require clicking on a Flash animation before it will execute, and AdBlock Plus to allow selective blocking of sites - Including their cookies! That way 2o7, adbrite, imrworldwide, and any other site that will try to leave cookies, "crumbs" (1-byte files or "images" (1x1 or 2x2 pixel GIF) which are more or less unique to each page or site), will be instantly blocked, and their content, while sent to your computer by the site, won't write to your disk.

You can subscribe to pre-made lists which add known spam/spy sites on a regular basis, then click on the "ABP" logo on any page with an ad (or a suspicion of one) to see each individual item's URL and be able to block any or all ads.

This combination won't block Java (though you can block individual Javascripts or whole sites' worth using a filter syntax like http://*.2o7.*/*.js), so you can also add "NoScript" Firefox add-in which will stop Java (this does break a lot of sites, so I don't recommend it).

I also use "Trashmail.net" addin which creates throwaway email addresses using random characters - then disposes of them automatically after X emails or X weeks. It's a free, donation-supported site which has a Firefox add-in to right-click and create email address (such as the one associated with this post).

Lastly, I recommend Spybot Search and Destroy's "Teatimer" (resident registry change protector), system immunization (redirection in HOSTS file of known spam/spyware sites to local loopback address), and IE protection (blocking of known ActiveX spyware).

Having these on my machines makes a huge difference - the last time I ran Spybot on my main browser PC, I realized it had been 170+ days since the last sweep - and I had no spyware, either programs or cookies/crumbs.

The latest "expert" recommendation is to run multiple antivirus programs as well. That one's still up for debate, however.

One last comment: never include your "real" email address or full name in blogs - webcrawler apps read them and catalog your information for future spam. If you must leave a "real" email addy, use a disposable like a Hotmail or Yahoo.
August 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFred B
Kaspersky AV2009 picked up the java script after I visited the BBC news web site. Strangely the site did not load correctly (my browser is IE7)
October 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Nielsen, imrworldwide and red sheriff are all the same company/group of companies.
They do market research and analytics.
The basically provide the same thing as Google analytics!!

What happens is companies and people would like to have statistics about their websites. Google and imrworldwide etc provide the ability to do this. They given their clients tracking scripts which the embed into their pages, etc...
When you visit a page that contains these scripts, info is sent back to the company, which allows them to aggregate data for their clients.
it's not even classified as spyware!
They're just tracking stats.
Most sites in the world are now using some kind of tracking scripts. Usually from Google.
No need to be alarmed at this.
Your firewalls/anit viruses will flag cookies and things as being a threat, even if they are not sometimes.
A real spyware software is a danger and is a lot worse. Potentially doing anything. A tracking cookie or script can only do so much even at the best of times.
May 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel from AUS
Hurry. Get your tin foil hats on. Come on folks, it's a cookie, not a virus. Once a week or so do the normal housekeeping on your computer and stop the worrying. The entire globe is not after you.
February 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermarty
My tinfoil hat is made out of aluminum!
February 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterDennis D. McDonald
After viewing this site I checked my cookies and saw two from none other than ddmcd.com!!!
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterM
!@#$!!! insidious little imrworldwide's evil little adware cookie slows my computer down so much so that I have to take a !@#$%!!! intermission every time I click the mouse. I have close everything, run the antispyware (which will take up to 3 hours instead of the usual 42 minutes) and then reboot the whole !@#$%^&*!!!!! system. I have set all privacy settings to high, blocked the site, blocked ALL cookies and it still get's through and craps on my machine. Nothing to worry about? I'm sure you have much better equipment than I do, but if yours slowed down like this, yeah, you'd be concerned too. I have NOT got time for this!
July 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTersky
Absolutely these cookies can slow you scans down. Before I removed this one above antispyware was way slower than usual also imdb.com installs a similar cookie if you visit thier site which superantispyware picked up. Whatever happened to the right to privacy? These guys should be tracked down and fined. If they want info they should have to ask permission and explain exactly what they are tracking.
July 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJefff
To Jeff and anyone else that is concerned about the cookies being placed on your computer after visiting a website;
This is a MAJOR CONCERN and a violation of your privacy especially if they didn't allow you to opt out before placing these cookies on you to track your browsing history! We are researching this for a possible lawsuit, therefore PLEASE contact me if you have information or concerns on the "Tracking Cookies"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks!
September 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarb
Dear Barb - what organization is bringing the lawsuit?
September 1, 2010 | Registered CommenterDennis D. McDonald
I too have a cookie from imrworldwide.com
I can not remove it. All other cookies clear just fine but not this one.
September 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous(YeahRight)
I too have been geting these new Flash cookies (secure-us.imrworldwide.com), and it was great concern to me, also, though yes is 'just a cookie'. You never know who is tracking you, or why... that to me is a bit unseetling. It seems to be whenever I get on FB, though I don't have play games or opt into any applications etc. Yes, I know- FB in itself, is our own BIG Brother creation, which is perhaps an even more involved database of info, in which we should all be concerned of who's watching (which is why I don't use any real names etc)...
Anyhow- the only thing I've used so far (on my 64 Bit), that locates AND removes these 'Flash Cookies' is 'Spyware Terminator' which you can download for FREE at their site, or via C-net.com.
Other commentators are right too- basically if you use the internet/ Google etc- someone, somewhere, is gathering info about you or your habits... The Google/Verizon deal comes to mind...I am curious about this proposed lawsuit...? Not sure what you could sue about...?
September 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJ
What you guys fail to understand about these programs that place the cookies; if you are using your computer for business, banking and making purchases on the net using credit cards, they can track credit card numbers and other important and very private information. These programs can read your key strikes and decode them. They then use the decoded information to steal credit card info, passwords and bank information. Your companies competitors can do the same and steal company information. There is alot more to these "cookies", these people do not just put cookies on your computer. Do some research and learn about these programs before giving others the wrong information. The cookies are not your main concern. (Mozilla Firefox) is a great way to assure the safety of any and all information on your computer(s).

Warmest Regards,
Lisa
September 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
Welcome to the Age of Obama. Your right to privacy is simply not going to be tolerated, It's just that simple. You should consider yourself very fortunate that you have been allowed to move with impunity throughout the Internet without supervision for this long. It might not be in the public good for anyone to be able to cause trouble for others by surfing without supervision, and if there is the mere chance that even one person could cause harm to others by doing so, particularly to those who are taking increasing responsibility for the welfare of all, then control and/or supervision over your movements and choices is a small price to pay. Don't worry, it becomes easier to accept as we provide all the choices you will need to sustain yourself. In the meantime, please follow Mr. Obama's suggestions to avoid watching any information on the Fox News channel on television, or any websites or blogs on the Internet that attempt to provide information other than that which has been approved for your consumption. We would prefer that you adhere to Mr. Obama's stated preferences of MSNBC on television and the Huffington Post website on the Internet for all of your daily news requirements. The New York Times, network news channels and Time and Newsweek magazines have also been approved for supplementary consumption of important information. Also, finally, please do NOT remove any cookie or other tracking device that was created at significant time and taxpayer expense to be placed on your computers! Your anticipated cooperation is appreciated. Your choices in this matter are being duly recorded. Thank you.
October 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Guardians
Dear Guardians:
I agree with you that we all need to be vigilant; I wrote this post while Mr.Bush was President. Also, I make it a practice to sign my name when posting in public; I believe this contributes to an open and honest exchange of ideas.
- Dennis
October 16, 2010 | Registered CommenterDennis D. McDonald
Dennis,
Fears/Nachawati Law Firm
http://www.fnlawfirm.com/practice_areas/consumer-privacy-laws-internet-privacy-laws.cfm

Please email me if your interested in joining our lawsuits!

1. Go to the following website, http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/flash_cookies_view.html and on the bottom of the page, click on “Download FlashCookiesView”

2. Click “open” and “run” the .exe program.

3. The program will then produce a window with your log of all flash cookies on your computer.

4. In that window that popped up go to top left corner to “EDIT” click on “SELECT All”.

5. Go back up to the “EDIT” in top left corner and click “COPY SELECTED ITEMS”.

6. Open up an email to me and in the body of the email pint your mouse then RIGHT CLICK YOUR MOUSE then click on ‘PASTE”. You will now see all your cookies pasted into them email to send to me. barbmartin_2000@yahoo.com

Thank you,
Barb
October 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarb
i am another who just found imrworldwide.txt on my computer - in doing a scan using super anitspyware (free), i noticed it when remove/quarantine stopped scrolling at that particular point in the removal process - and apparently it's frozen at that point, after 30 min. of no activity past there

i have read the posts re: this cookie as well as the debate about degree of harm w/cookies and remain confused - i am older and although i try to understand and stay current on info of this sort, i get lost in the shuffle rather easily, so any advice or help would be warmly welcomed

i use avast (free) 4.8-1368 and webroot desktop firewall and their associated spyware program (can't remember the name at the moment)

google chrome is my default browser, but i also use ie periodically - i would love to use firefox full time, but in order to do that, i need to uninstall, then reinstall it daily (asking for help from them produced an unkind post telling me they weren't there to answer elementary questions)

i still use windows xp and outlook express - unfortunately a newer computer doesn't seem to be a viable option, so i really am limited mostly to what i have now

coming back full circle.......what am i to do about this particular cookie? is there another program i ought to have installed in order to better monitor cookies? i have spybot, but it never finds any thing at all when i run it

thank you very much for reading this and i look forward to a continued discussion - and thank you also to the provider of this help site -)
November 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranne
Use Chrome,browse either in incognito or manage cookie settings in options/tools.To be honest worrying over what cookies are stored on your PC should be the last of your worries considering the amount of data Google/FB/Chrome Add ons ect... logs about it's users.
February 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRin$er

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