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  1. #1



    Boy, am I glad I was told about your Forums!! You seem to have exactly what I'm looking for; however, I have a few questions regarding "Real Player" and "RealOne Player".......I hope that someone will be able to point me in the right direction.

    I don't know if you're familiar with "GRC", (Gibson Research Center....a teriffic web site that's hosted by Steve Gibson).....anyway, his site has several tests: for checking the efficiency of your firewall by probing the different ports; he designs little apps that enable you to safely disable "plug and play", windows messenger; and he does all that he can to supply information on how to be sure that when you're on-line, you are as SAFE as you can be.

    Steve also alerts visitors to his site about "dangerous" programs that can compromise your on-line security by posting excellent articles that he has written and thoroughly researched......this brings me to the reason that I'm posting my question, (I'll bet you thought I'd NEVER get to my point!!!

    Anyway, the report to which I am referring is one that he did on Real Player and RealOne Player; in it, he reported in great detail the proof of "spyware" being part of this company's media players. I have taken the liberty of providing the URL in case you wanted to read it for yourselves. Here it is:


    I am VERY new at using a PC, and I am mostly self-taught.....a very scary combination! Because I am a "newbie", I tend to be extra cautious, especially when it's possible to compromise my security while on-line.

    Because of reading the article mentioned above, I ONLY have Windows Media Player and QuickTime Media Player installed on my PC, as I'm concerned about the "spyware" issue with Real Player and RealOne Player. However, I thought that I heard someone on TechTV, (a digital cable TV channel that has all computer/tech-related programs), mention that the OLD VERSION of Real Player is free from "spyware", and is therefore safe to use.

    When I went to your sites' list of downloads of Real Player and RealOne Player, there were several versions of them!

    Will someone please recommend which version I should download, as I occasionally get a newsletter or visit a web site that only offers Real Player in order to view a news clip or report. I was leaning toward getting Real Player 8, but I wasn't sure if it was the "safest" one to use.

    Oh, and BTW, I run SpyBot Search and Destroy every time I start up my PC...you probably use it yourself, as it's a GREAT spyware, browser hi-hacker and other malware removal program, (and it's Free, too&#33.

    I'd GREATLY appreciate any and all recommendations about which old version to download; which version is your personal favorite and why. This will help me make my decision, as I know that I should have Real Player available for the few sites that require it.

    I don't know how much info you need about my PC, so I'll give you the basics...if you need to know anything else, just ask!

    I have a Dell Dimension 8200
    Windows XP-Home, SP-1
    OE 6
    80 GB hard drive
    512 MB RDRAM
    broadband connection

    I really appreciate your input about this, and I look forward to getting LOTS of opinions!!

    Thanks in advance for your help!


  2. #2
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    May 2003


    I personally do not use REAL Player. As I said in another posting, the last time I used it was probably when RP hit the 5.0 version. So I have not kept track of the spyware issues, when it started for REAL Networks.

    A problem arises when you start going back to older version's, and you attempt to play new REAL formats, it doesnt work. Sometimes new codecs are designed to be playable on older players, but i think that is slowly disappearing from the developers minds. They figure it's not a big issue with downloading their apps over and over each time you need it, or deleted it, reformatted the HD. So you can just use their newer apps, and forgot the older versions. Sometimes they even force you use the newest version, such is the case with MSN's messenger.

    Real Player is not alone in the spying business, as Windows Media Player also does that same, but I dont think its quite as bad as the Real Networks; from what I read on the site you posted.

    Even though the application is spying on you, there are many ways to stop this.
    [*]First, you should never leave the Real Player in the system tray when you boot up the PC. It should only load when your request it. So if it is sitting in the tray when your PC loads, you will want to disable this.[*]Don't use Real Player to play media that can be handled by other apps, this will reduce the number of times REAL PLAYER is running and snooping on your activities. If you want to play a CD, use the Windows built-in CD Player, or anything other than Real Player.[*]In Real Player, when you fill out any personal info, dont use your real ones, make something up. Be sure to remove the "Check for Upgrades" box.[*]Use an older version, which is what you plan to do. You might want to start out with a rather old one; (and bandwidth permitting), use until you hit a snag; such as it will not play a file properly, then upgrade to the next version, this way you yourself can figure out which one works for the files you view, without the need to have more than you need.[*]If you download; save to disk, the RA/RV files to hard drive, and are on a dial-up, view those files when your offline. this may or may not help keep the player from phoning home, since it may store the info in a file and send it later, but if your spy-remover removes the database of stored info after/before each reboot, then that info would be removed from the database, and those offline viewed files database entrys would never have gotten a chance to be sent to the "snoop department."[*]Running an application proxy/firewall, that requires you to ALLOW/DENY per session net connections is good also. This will keep any program for "phoning home", without you being made aware of the attempts.[*]A simple and yet often overlooked way to block any and all spyware from sending out info on your activities is by way of your systems HOST file. The host file, once maintained on all system's connected to a network, has been replaced with the DNS, due to the untold amount of systems on the internet, and personally maintaining a host file for "surfing" is impossible. But it can be used to block any site, program from contacting the destined computer. I personally maintain a HOST file which blocks; spyware, ADs, pop-ups and websites from loading on my systems. On last count it was well over 24,000 sites blocked.
    The file is simple to maintain, as it just requires a text editor. When your surfig the net, and see something you dont like, you take the site and block it via your host file.
    The one draw back to this process is, if the spyware is phoning sites that are only numeric, then it does not work.
    And to block an app like REAL PLAYER from phoning homes takes some computer knowledge to be able to track it down, so that part makes it alittle difficult for the beginner.

    Another option is to find alternatives for these codecs, (compressor/decompressor), So that your not dependant on the application and its nonsense.

    Spybot is a good app, though it has on occassion missed to pick up some system nastys. So sometimes it might be a good thing to run another spyblocker every so often to see if Spybot missed any.


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