While I was running a full system scan of my computer, Sunbelt Software’s
CounterSpy complained about Atomic Clock Sync. It referred to "Adw.BestOffersNetworks.AtomicClockSync Adware" and classified it as "Risk: High." Counterspy’s description says the application is not a threat, but that it is installed with several adware threats. After some quick cross-checking, I updated last week’s online newsletter (article 3) to alert readers.
I have seen nothing unusual in my system’s operation. No popups, no unusual ads, no browser hijacking, nothing.
CounterSpy only reacted during a system scan. Counterspy did not react based on any system activity, nor did anything else. ZoneAlarm, of course, reacted when I told Atomic Clock Sync to "ping" the server. Note that Counterspy flagged this as "adware" not "spyware."
I also checked with two other anti-spyware products: XoftSpy and Microsoft Antispyware (beta) software packages. Neither identified anything wrong with the Atomic Clock Sync files. I also rechecked Download.com — and note that their banner at the top claims "Safe, Trusted and Spyware Free." Is it adware, though? If so, a lot of folks have been fooled — it’s available from PCWorld.com, download.com, Winsite.com, Snapfiles.com, PCMag.com, and other places.
Perhaps an earlier version of Atomic Clock Sync did have adware included; perhaps not. I did some more internet searching and found Ed Bott’s blog entry at http://www.edbott.com/weblog/archives/000151.html, where he was talking about adware.
He quoted Ben Edelman of Harvard University, who was testifying before the Federal Trade Commission about adware, and who mentioned Atomic Clock Sync as an alternative to similar programs that install adware:
For example, Atomic Clock Sync 2.69 is an automatic computer clock synchronization program, but unlike WhenU’s ClockSync and Gator’s Precision Time, Atomic Clock Sync does not require that users accept popup advertisements. Similarly, Weather Watcher 5.010 provides local weather monitoring and reporting, and unlike WhenU’s WeatherCast and Gator’s Precision Time, Weather Watcher entails no popups.
In other words, Ben Edelman identified Atomic Clock Sync as one of the good programs. For now, I’m not worried about it.
[originally published 2006]