University suggests students uninstall Kazaa

Spyware hidden in some versions of Kazaa can prevent access to its e-learning network, the University of Western Sydney, in Australia, has advised students

A Sydney-based university is advising students to uninstall a version of Sharman Networks' controversial file-sharing software Kazaa. A spokeswoman for the University of Western Sydney's (UWS) information technology department yesterday told ZDNet Australia that it had identified spyware piggy-backing on Kazaa as the cause of login problems for some students attempting to access its 30,000-user collaborative e-learning network, myWebCT.

The spokeswoman said a number of students reported being redirected to Perfect Nav's Web site each time they attempted to log on to the collaborative learning network.

Further investigation of the problem revealed that all the students had installed versions of Kazaa Media Desktop on their systems.

"What we've found out is that Kazaa Media Desktop comes with a software program called Perfect Nav... [the software] is designed to redirect your mistyped URLs to Perfect Nav's Website," said the spokeswoman.

Until Wednesday, the myWebCT login page carried a notice for students experiencing problems accessing the network:

"If you get redirected to the Perfect Nav website upon clicking the 'log in' link, you will need to uninstall Kazaa (or Kazaa Lite) and all traces of spyware from your computer."

The notice then continues offering instructions for removal of Kazaa and associated spyware.

The spokeswoman told ZDNet Australia that the advisory had been issued in anticipation of an increase in support enquiries after around 10 students reported experiencing the problem.

Some Kazaa enthusiasts have reported problems when using hacked versions of the application -- some of which are rumoured to contain Trojans. However, it's not clear why the Perfect Nav software is interfering with the network's authentication systems.

Sharman Networks failed to respond after ZDNet Australia approached the company via its Web site and public-relations representatives for comment on the matter yesterday.

UWS had removed the advisory that it had placed on myWebCT site by early Thursday.

For more coverage on ZDNet Australia, click here.