Journeying Itinerants Hijack Open Office For Profit

gypsies2

The Complaint

While browsing Reddit this morning, I came across an interesting post from user cyrus9020.  His post can be viewed below, or at this link.

The big question. What is going on?

I google open office and the first (paid) link is this: http://www.open-office.us/index.html . It seems to be openoffice from the pictures but i looked at the terms part of the website and I found this: “You can download and use the software OpenOffice for this website totally free. However, you can not modify the software without permission.”. Wtf? this isn’t open source. I’m confused how they can legally do this. Can someone explain it to me.

While there is certainly an interesting conversation attached to this post, there have been no attempts to investigate this site to completely satisfy this query.  I couldn’t resist…

The Investigation

It was completely clear to me after seeing the webpage in question that is was not the property of Apache.  Though it is quite deceptive.  The professional appearance of this page is disturbingly welcoming to its potential prey.  Take a look.

New browser toolbars are just a click away.

Whois

The first step was an obvious one.  Run a whois lookup on open-office.us.  Unsurprisingly, this revealed that the registrant was not affiliated with Apache in any way.  Here are the goods from my whois lookup.

Registrant Name: Open-Office.US Team
Registrant Organization: Open-Office.US
Registrant Address1: 5 Repulse Bay Roard, Flat 3B
Registrant City: Hong Kong
Registrant State/Province: Hong Kong
Registrant Postal Code: 00000
Registrant Country: Hong Kong
Registrant Country Code: HK
Registrant Phone Number: +852.92694911
Registrant Email: support@open-office.us

Is it in a hotel? Well, these are journeying itinerants we’re talking about…

What’s most surprising here is that the registrant used GoDaddy as its registrar, though elected not to use GoDaddy’s whois privacy feature.  Now I’m no scam artist, but if I were peddling wares on the outskirts of legality and morality, I would probably keep my personal details out of it.  Ironically, this repulsive ‘business’ resides in the Repulse Bay.  

The website, while being a fairly simple affair, does try its best to appear legitimate.  The domain seems to suggest that they reside in the US and there is nothing there to indicate that their operations are in Hong Hong.  The site claims to even offer support to its users, imploring downloaders to email them at support@open-office.us.  They promising a 2 day turn around on support queries.

We’ve emailed them.  Do you think we will hear back?

Installation

Installing Open Office via open-office.us reveals the true intent of the application.  Upon launching the application, it connects to an external download manager.  This is what fetches Open Office.  Meanwhile, it is nice enough to present you will the following applications for installation.

Wajam

Cool!  Wajam will happily take all of your personal data and do with it what it wishes.

Your Facebook, Google+ and Twitter user data is used by Wajim to give you personal results from friends based on what you search for.  Wajam may use cookies, pisles and/or other means to collect your IP address, URLs of the pages you visit and other non-personally identifiable information in order to give you personal search results and show you advertising.

Sounds promising…

Yes, let’s install this!


Dean Howell

Dean Howell has over a decade of experience with Linux and nearly 2 decades of experience with computers in general. Currently, Dean is Editor-in-chief of The Powerbase and also works for one of the world's largest providers of Linux-based NVRs.

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  • Deckard_Cain

    You should rename the article. Some people might construe the title as being racist torwards gypsies.

    But this is quite worrisome indeed.

    • lordpenguin

      I’m using the term “Gypsy” as used in English law. “persons of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin, but
      does not include members of an organised group of travelling showmen, or
      persons engaged in travelling circuses, travelling together as such.”

      • Deckard_Cain

        Gypsies is also used to refer to the romani people. So you should REALLY change the title of your article.

        • http://www.facebook.com/spas.jelev.5 Spas Jelev

          This is exactly gypsy job! Ask people in eastern europe, especially in Romania and Bulgaria

      • arochester

        a) I worked in an English lawyers office for several years: and b) I later managed a Romany Gypsy. What doe this article have to do with Gypsies? Are we supposed to equate Gypsy with Cheat?

  • http://www.facebook.com/edmund.potts Edmund Potts

    Stop referring to “gypsies”. All you’re doing is perpetuating prejudice. if you need me to explain it more I will, but to be honest common sense should tell you why it might be offensive.

    • http://www.facebook.com/edmund.potts Edmund Potts

      ok, “gypsies” in British english usage is overwhelmingly used to refer to the often-ethnically-distinct (and always culturally distinct) community more properly known as Roma or Romani. They were mistakenly termed “gypsies” in previous centuries because of the common misconception that they originated in eGYPt.

      The usage of gypsy you employ here is a misguided and potentially offensive one stemming from prejudice and misunderstanding directed at Romani because of their distinctive nomadic way of life, which became unfairly associated with uncleanliness, barbarism, and criminality. By analogy this term then was extended to other nomadic communities (such as Irish Travellers), but mostly still with intended negative connotations – the association with crime and otherness is always at least implicit.

      Therefore it could easily be offensive for you to equate “gypsy” with scams, con artists or deception, while it still is used (albeit imprecisely or mistakenly) to describe a distinct (not to mention vulnerable and demonised) ethnic/cultural group.

  • lordpenguin

    So, with all of this backlash stemming from traffic from an American site, where we use Gypsy the way I have in the article, is still offensive?

    If there were an American feature film about Gypsies that lie, steal, cheat and kill, would that be offensive too? …Or is this just the LXer crowd…

    • http://www.facebook.com/edmund.potts Edmund Potts

      Yes, unfortunately, it is still offensive: because you and your compatriots’ use of the term stems from bigotry, as I have explained. Therefore it’s impossible to divorce the word gypsy from the prejudice and offence it implies elsewhere, regardless of whether you personally are in America or anywhere else. In the same way that I wouldn’t use any of the anti-american slang terms at my disposal (even with an altered meaning), because of the offence I know they could easily cause to americans reading my blog. It doesn’t matter where you personally are sitting, you have to recognise that you have a global readership and take a little account of that. Notice that no-one has called you a racist or prejudiced (because I don’t think anyone would believe that), but instead we have tried to explain why something you have said might be offensive. In actual fact, I’m partly hoping you’ll just change it for your own sake because it really isn’t worth the stupid “pretended outrage” storm on twitter that could blow up over something like this.

      • lordpenguin

        Or “pretend outrage” from LXer?

        • http://www.facebook.com/edmund.potts Edmund Potts

          I’m not outraged, because you clearly didn’t mean offence. I’m just asking you to change something which unfortunately *is* offensive and prolongs negative stereotyping of Roma. Seriously, I knew one guy from the community where I used to live, and he equates “gypsy” with ni**er in terms of offence caused. Also, get off your high horse. I haven’t posted this on any social networking sites or called attention to it in any way. I do use Lxer from time to time, but that wasn’t how I came across this article – I read your site because you seem well-informed and you write clearly.

          • Guest

            Thank you, I appreciate it.

          • http://profiles.google.com/deanhowell2 Dean Howell

            My apologies.

    • arochester

      What is the use of claiming it’s used in an American sense, so it’s OK? You have published it to the world. Some people in the USA used to use derogatory terms for black people. Was that OK because it was done in an American sense?.

      The Nazi killed Jewish people in the Holocaust. They also killed homosexuals. They also killed Gypsies.
      Could you imagine the furore if you had titled your article “Jews…”

      • http://profiles.google.com/deanhowell2 Dean Howell

        It’s because I am from America. It is the only place that I have ever lived. I cannot be expected to know what is racist and what is not racist in every country the world over. That is ridiculous.

        I may have been better off calling them “Trunk-slammers”. Regardless, the title of this article was changed using perfectly literal words that merely align themselves with the American usage of Gypsy, wothout using the word Gypsy. All mentions of the word Gypsy have been replaced in the article as well. All of this was done over an hour before your comment as well.

        • http://www.facebook.com/wolftune Aaron Wolf

          Thanks Dean. And please don’t lump this with America. I’m American and I would have posted the exact same comment if nobody else already did. I believe 100% in you being unintentional and not meaning any disrespect, but it is still very good that you changed the article. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/edmund.potts Edmund Potts

    Thank you.

  • http://about.me/nlsthzn Neil Oosthuizen

    I find the issue of this happening in Ubuntu moot as the Software Center grows in features and popularity. No need to dredge through the internet unmasking these nasties.

  • gypsy

    Please rename this article to something less offensive. E.g. “Jews Hijack Open Office For Profit”

  • Pingback: Using Ubuntu To Create An Illegitimate Referral Based Profit Center

  • Willard Scott

    Oh no, the URL still has the ‘g’ word in it. I’m ok but my browser is offended!! wah wah wah…

  • chuntera

    Windows anti-virus & anti-spyware apps will often detect these type of plugins. Are there equivalent applications for linux desktop users ?

    • hangle

      the term ‘will often’ indicates that sometimes the anti-virus fails to do its job. linux users install software from a repository system– not requiring anti-virus software. installing from the web is a different story. the article is a valuable lesson for any operating system user.

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