Lockdown 2000 Principal Michael Paris Threatens My ISP

Monday, 18 January 1999
Threat Dismissed! 19Jan)

This evening I received a phone call from my ISP, informing me they had received
this email from Michael Paris, threatening a $100,000 lawsuit for copyright infringement and that Harbor Telco will "seek compensation" for what he characterized as slander.

My ISP are understandably worried. As a purely business concern, they cannot afford a lawsuit to defend my actions, nor is it in any way right or just they should be forced to do so.

Mr. Paris' email makes numerous unsubstantiated accusations, which remind me in their way of the manner in which his Lockdown 2000 promo is written.

Let's take this statement, directly from the front page at lockdown2000.com:

"Lock Down 2000 is now the world's most effective
and complete security system available for Windows
95, 98, and NT. ... With LockDown 2000 you will
never have to worry about Hackers invading your
privacy, deleting your files, attaching a virus or a
trojan horse program without your knowledge.

There is not one single legitimate reputable security product in existence for any platform anywhere which makes such outrageously unqualified claims. Except Lockdown 2000. This statement above is misleading at best. There is NO software product in existence, least of all Lockdown, which can guarantee that hostile code can "never" be run your system or that it can "never" be successfully hacked. No security expert in his right mind would ever offer such an irresponsible claim.

I will respond here, in public, to Mr. Paris' statements. Following is a reproduction of the text of Mr. Paris' email as forwarded to me, and my responses to his statements. I choose to abandon the usual courtesy of asking an emailer's permission to reproduce. I think the public has a right to know, and I have a right to openly display and respond to this man's very serious accusations and his attempts to silence my criticism.

Dear: Mr. xxxxxxx

After numerous failed attempts to contact Pc Help (xxxxx xxxxx) by
telephone and sending the attached letter dated December 18, 1998
without any response, it has now become necessary to inform you
directly of the following.

I have received no emails, no letters and no phone calls from any person whatsoever who claims to have anything to do with Harbor Telco or Lockdown 2000. Despite being in possession of my correct phone number and address, Mr. Paris has somehow managed to fail in his supposed attempts. I have an answering machine which I check daily. I have never had a problem receiving mail.

Isn't that odd. Could it be that Mr. Paris prefers not to contact me, but instead to attempt to precipitate the removal of my entire site by my ISP? That would appear to be what he's asking for! He refers to no specific URL, nor even to specific statements, only to the site as a whole. Read on:

It has been brought to our attention that you are hosting a site, free
of charge, called Pc Help. This site is slandering and making false
statements about our product, LockDown 2000. After reviewing this site
it is obvious to us here at Harbor Telco Corp. that xxxxx xxxxx, the
owner of Pc Help, is unable to comprehend our software's capabilities.

I invite the reader to examine my test review of the Lockdown product. I think I understood what I tested rather well.

Slander, by the way, is a very specific and clearly defined legal term. Nowhere in his email does Mr. Paris provide any credible justification for the use of that term.

As for false statements, I know of absolutely none I have made. I did err in a couple of points, which I corrected in my followup to the test page. I also erred in some of my statements in my very first comments about Lockdown, which errors I corrected in this document.

It is clear from the screen captures on the Pc Help page that while
claiming to have tested v2.5 in actuality the testing was deceptively
conducted with v2.0. The Pc Help site is broadcasting lies and
inaccurate testing information about our product through your service.

I challenge Mr. Paris to rebut any specific statement I have made, excepting only the errors which I corrected myself, and show it to be a lie. I challenge him also to prove my testing in any way shape or form to be inaccurate.

The version I tested was downloaded, as I clearly state on the test review page, on the 10th of November 1998. It does not show a version number when Help...About is selected. Here's what it shows:

Therefore I examined my Lockdown more carefully for version information. What I found was that it places this key in the Registry:

Now, that looks like version 2.5 to me. Doesn't it to you?

When I saw Lockdown being advertised on its site as version 2.5 at the time I performed that test and wrote that test review, I saw no reason to assume I was testing any other than the current program.

I have since downloaded a new copy of Lockdown and find it is indeed rather different in many respects. I have yet to perform extensive tests, but I should mention that I ran three (3) simultaneous Back Orifice servers by three different startup vectors and found that Lockdown -- in what I assume is the very latest version -- ignored them all with equal aplomb despite repeated trojan scans. But hey, I'll save all that for later when I evaluate the new version properly.

Pc Help has also admitted to disassembling our program, which is willful
copyright infringement.

This is really quite untrue. I was clear enough in my description of what I did, that Mr. Paris is well aware that I did not "disassemble" his program. What I did was to run the program, then extract from my own machine's memory, the unencrypted executable.

You see, the Lockdown2000.exe file I tested was compressed/encrypted, in my opinion precisely because its internal texts were too revealing of its flaws. I present as an example to support my opinion, the fact that its supposed "trojan scan" was so unbelievably lame as I described in detail and truthfully in my review. In addition, the uncompressed executable compresses far better within a .ZIP archive and therefore would have facilitated faster download.

Anyway, the file must be expanded into its normal state in order to execute. Therefore anyone running the program winds up with an uncompressed copy of the executable in their machine's memory! I merely took advantage of that fact to read its normally-hidden texts.

I did make a copy of those embedded texts, which can be found here. However that text is neither a reproduction of the executable file, nor in any rational sense a violation of copyright. It is a disjointed series of words, mostly the names of program objects which are to be found in any number of programs because they are inherent in the programming tools used to create applications. It is, in essence, a creation of my own which contains only bits and pieces of the Lockdown executable file. It is merely indicative of its functions, which functions any user of the program has every right to know.

On the Pc Help page it states :
"I wish to acknowledge Northwest Internet, who host this site free of
charge and who have cooperated with me in my efforts to analyze Back
Orifice. Everyone who is helped by these pages owes thanks to these
good people."

We are notifying you so that you may have the opportunity to resolve
this matter immediately. Accordingly, demand is made hereby that you,
Northwest Internet, take immediate action concerning this Pc Help site.

Note: My statement quoted here by Paris is in fact somewhat inaccurate. My pchelp account with NWI is not actually free but is a trade account, provided in consideration for the business I send their way. I routinely connect my local clients to their service. I have removed the "free of charge" statement from my front BO page and added a disclaimer which clearly indicates that my material is my own and not any responsibility of NWI. NWI has at no time had any control or involvement with the content of my website.

Incredibly, Michael Paris is taking advantage of my ISP's generosity to accuse them of facilitating my alleged offenses. I presume that because he knows he could never actually sue me successfully, and because he knows that ISPs are (rightly so) extremely fearful of copyright infringement lawsuits, he is attempting to convince my ISP that they must limit their own liability by removing my site.

He did not, incidentally, ask them to forward me this email. I have little choice but to conclude he hoped they might choose not to inform me of his accusations, and instead act on them (remove my site) without consulting me. They have too much integrity for that, for which I thank them.

You will note that he refers to no specific URLs (in fact he gives essentially no specifics at all for his charges) but to my entire website! Apparently Mr. Paris is unconcerned that the primary purpose and function of my site has been to help tens of thousands of people to obtain information about remote admin trojans and to free themselves of those hostile programs. He hopes, apparently, to cause me damage by the removal of my entire site!

Should you choose to disregard this notice we will be force to seek
compensation. Failure to comply with these requirements will subject
you to claims of aiding in willful copyright infringement, the
possibility of statutory damages of up to $100,000 plus attorney's fees.
We trust that you have no interest in engaging or promoting such illegal

This is the rather awesome threat. Mr. Paris is telling my ISP he will sue, and that I am (and by association, they are) engaged in ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES.

The unfortunate people at my ISP are forced to take this threat seriously. They cannot easily afford to risk a lawsuit and yet they are making an effort to weigh the validity of Mr. Paris' demands. Hopefully, they will demand specifics of Mr. Paris before allowing his threats to have effect upon the content of my site.

I wish to thank the many people who have responded to this incident and written to my ISP in my support. I am now assured that because I have responded to their communications, only the Lockdown material is at issue and the rest of the site is not at significant risk.

Please contact us should you have any questions.


Michael Paris

Harbor Telco Corp.

I have of course responded to my ISP via email, telling them essentially what I have said here. I can now only wait to hear from them to find out what they intend to do.

To this email, Paris attached the text of the letter he supposedly sent me, which you can read here. But in that letter is one ominous and especially horrible passage which I must address:

Accordingly, demand is made hereby that you cease mention of our
software LockDown 2000 on your site. If you persist in your actions, you
will do so at your peril.

This is the crux of it. I am being told not even to mention their product! I am being told to SHUT UP. This, by my lights is one of the most obscene demands I have ever been subjected to in my life. My very right to speak as I see fit is being threatened.

Well, rest assured, no matter what forum I must use, I will continue to speak my mind, whether it be about Lockdown or something else.

Update 19 January

My ISP have now informed me they will DISREGARD Mr. Paris' threats! They have responded to his email, citing the correct status of my account and their own terms of service, whereby they disclaim virtually all responsibility for content. In effect, they have told him to take his complaints to me and me alone.

To their lasting credit, NWI have seen fit to risk further protest from Michael Paris rather than to take any rash action to limit their own liability; in keeping with their own policies and with every standard of fairness. They clearly recognize the falsity of Paris' copyright infringement claim as it applies to them.

I wish to extend my gratitude to NWI for this decision and to thank them as well for the longstanding tolerant and communicative relations they have maintained with me.

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