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BonziBuddy promotional logo previously at Bonzi.com
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows|
BonziBuddy, stylized as BonziBUDDY, was a piece of adware distributed by Bonzi Software between 1999 and 2004. The software provided an on-screen software agent designed to help users surf the Internet by using Microsoft Agent technology. In 1999, the software used a green parrot called "Peedy" licensed from Microsoft, and in later versions, a purple gorilla named Bonzi. The on-screen agent upon a user's choice would share jokes and facts, manage downloading using its download manager, sing songs and other functions. The user could command the character by right clicking on the character's stomach, where a menu would appear.
BonziBuddy was typical of most trojan adware of the era, displaying advertising over the top of legitimate web content, amongst other functions. Because BonziBuddy's website has been inactive for several years, and their connections to the adware providers have been lost, BonziBuddy is now benign for the most part.
Attempting to start some versions of BonziBuddy under Windows XP will result in a compatibility warning about the program's speech synthesizer having issues under that operating system.
The software used Microsoft Agent technology similar to Office Assistant, and originally sported Peedy, a green parrot and one of the characters available with Microsoft Agent. Later versions of BonziBuddy featured its own character: Bonzi, the purple gorilla.
Below is a summary of the releases of BonziBuddy and how they have changed. During 2005, BonziBuddy was no longer available.
|BonziBuddy||1.0.0||First version originally with Microsoft's green parrot, Peedy.||1999|
|BonziBuddy||22.214.171.124||Updated menu, added hotkey for quiet mode.||1999|
|BonziBuddy||126.96.36.199||Last Peedy update. When 3.5 update was available, Peedy would ask if the user would like to meet a new friend called Bonzi.||2000|
|BonziBuddy||3.5.0||A purple gorilla named Bonzi. New BonziWorld Menu. Bonzi's entrance from surf board. New sound effects and animations. New jungle-like interface added.||2000|
|BonziBuddy||3.7.1||New functions such as "Save You Money!" or "Check For Virus Alerts". Depending on next versions it might reset the homepage to www.bonzi.com.||2001|
|BonziBuddy||188.8.131.52||Mainly bug fixes?||2004|
|BonziBuddy||4.1.9||Removal of the BonziWorld menu and went back to the menu since 2.0. Bonzi's entrance swings from vine.||2004|
|BonziBuddy||4.1.12||Mainly Bug Fixes. Last known version before Bonzi Software went out of business.||2004|
In April 2007, PCWorld readers voted BonziBuddy 6th on a list of "The 20 Most Annoying Tech Products". One reader was quoted as criticizing the program because it "kept popping up and obscuring things you needed to see."
One of the last newspapers to write about BonziBuddy while it was still in distribution described it as spyware and a "scourge of the Internet". Another article found in 2006 on the BusinessWeek website described BonziBuddy as "the unbelievably annoying spyware trojan horse".
Adware or spyware
A number of sources identify BonziBuddy as spyware, a claim the company disputes. In 2002 an article in Consumer Reports Web Watch labelled BonziBuddy as spyware, stating that it contains a backdoor trojan in that it collects information from users. Among the activities the program is said to engage in include constantly resetting the user's web browser homepage to bonzi.com without the user's permission, prompting and tracking various information about the user, and serving advertisements.
The Spyware Removal Database at Safer Networking (makers of Spybot – Search & Destroy) states "BonziBuddy is an Internet Explorer toolbar that may change your web browser settings, change your home page, and launch pop-up advertisements while tracking your web browsing habits."
Spyware Guide's entry on the program states that it is adware.
Internetnews.com reported the settlement of a class action suit on May 27, 2003. Originally brought against Bonzi Software on December 4, 2002, the suit accused Bonzi of using its banner advertisements to deceptively imitate Windows computer alerts, alerting the user that their IP address is being broadcast. In the settlement, Bonzi agreed to modify their ads so that they looked less like Windows dialog boxes and more like advertisements.
On February 18, 2004, the Federal Trade Commission released a statement indicating that Bonzi Software, Inc. was ordered to pay $75,000 in fees, among other aspects, for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 with BonziBuddy.
- Geschwind, Bill (2004-08-11). "AppNote: Automating the installation and execution of Spybot Search & Destroy with ZENworks". Novell Cool Solutions. Novell. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
Hotbar, Bonzi Buddy, Gator eWallet and Comet Cursors ... are all spyware-laden programs that I have encountered far too often in the field on my users' machine
- Mark Hachman (2003-05-28). ""Bonzi Buddy" Creator Settles Suit". ExtremeTech. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "Counter Spy's entry on BonziBuddy". Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "The 20 Most Annoying Tech Products". PCWorld. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
- Kladko, Brian (2004-03-21). "Prying Eyes Lurk Inside Your PC; Spyware Spawns Efforts at Control.". The Gale Group, Inc. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
- "Breaking: MySpace Backlash Sighted In Mainstream Media!". Businessweek. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
- Vincentas (16 July 2013). "BonziBuddy in SpyWareLoop.com". Spyware Loop. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- Robertson Barrett (2002-11-21). "Five Major Categories of Spyware". Consumer Reports. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "Spyware Guide's entry on BonziBuddy". Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "ADW_BONZIBUDDY.C". Threat Encyclopedia. Trend Micro. 2004-06-08. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
- "Adware.Bonzi". 2007-02-13. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- Brian Morrissey (2003-05-27). "Bonzi Settles Deceptive Ad Suit". internetnews.com. Retrieved 2003-06-06.archive.org link
- Brian Morrissey (2002-12-04). "Bonzi Hit With Deceptive-Ad Complaint". internetnews.com. Retrieved 2003-06-18. archive.org link
- "UMG Recordings, Inc. to Pay $400,000, Bonzi Software, Inc. To Pay $75,000 to Settle COPPA Civil Penalty Charges". Federal Trade Commission. 2004-02-18. Retrieved 2006-09-07.