BonziBUDDY, sometimes spelled Bonzi Buddy, Bonzibuddy, BonziBuddy, or BONZIBuddy, (misspelled Bonzai Buddy) was an on-screen "intelligent software agent" on Microsoft Windows from BONZI or Bonzi Software that was generally reported as malware, released in 1999 and discontinued in 2004 with only around seven versions ever released. The official website stated it would help a person explore the Internet through various functions along with their own sidekick. It first surfaced as a green talking parrot named Peedy, before taking the form of an animated purple gorilla that resided on a user's desktop and communicated through the employment of Microsoft Agent technology.
As the years since Bonzi.com was taken down continue to grow in number, BonziBUDDY has become benign over time, as it is no longer able to access the servers it requires to utilize its adware component. BonziBuddy is also known as a keylogger.
BonziBuddy may be known as an annoying and useless desktop helper.
The software used Microsoft Agent technology similar to Office Assistant, and originally sported Peedy, a green parrot character, before it became the purple ape. The software "interacts with users while they are online, providing shopping advice, jokes, and trivia."
When Bonzi the Purple Gorilla was about to be released in the next version (After Peedy's last version), Peedy would ask the user if they'd like to meet a new buddy of theirs. Then began the usage of Bonzi, the purple gorilla.
At one point, the official website for the application said this about it:
- He will explore the Internet with you as your very own friend and sidekick! He can talk, walk, joke, browse, search, e-mail, and download like no other friend you've ever had! He even has the ability to compare prices on the products you love and help you save money! Best of all, he's FREE!
The initial program was free. But most functions in the free version were only samples or demos that would urge people to pay for modules to extend the functionality. For example, Bonzi told jokes and sang songs, but to go beyond a few jokes and songs (about half a dozen) users were urged to purchase joke or song modules.
BonziBUDDY works best on Windows XP or below. While the program still works in Windows Vista and up, his speech glitches to the default sound of the computer in said operating systems, causing him to speak weirdly and maybe cause him to skip words. His sprite background also glitches on Windows 7 and up so it is no longer transparent but it creates a solid-colored cyan space around Bonzi due to it being unsupported. However, this can be fixed using compatibility mode on the executable and setting it to Windows XP or below.
The software became popular in late 2013 due to a livestream released by Vinesauce Joel, a member of the popular gaming group Vinesauce, who made a stream called "Windows XP Destruction" involving releasing Bonzi into a Windows XP virtual machine to cause chaos amongst a host of other viruses and adware. However, Bonzi tended to do little except occasionally provide stale jokes and greet Joel. Vinesauce Joel also made a "Windows 7 Destruction" video showcasing BonziBUDDY. This is because BonziBUDDY's website has been inactive for several years, and their connections to the adware providers have been lost, meaning that for the most part, BonziBUDDY is now benign.
In honor of Joel's streams, http://bonzi.link/, one of the program's original websites, has been recently claimed by Vinesauce fans and is currently used as a mirror site for the BonziBUDDY link, as well as providing general information about the program. By July 2017, bonzi.link redirects to an ad by Freenom (a free domain registration site).
In another stream by Joel, one in which he attempts to destroy Windows Vista, he downloaded and ran a trojan titled "BonziBuddy", which acts in a similar manner to another trojan known as MEMZ, except with Bonzi Buddy attempting to destroy the PC with an injection of his "code", making everything Bonzi Buddy themed.
Vinesauce Joel also seems to think of Microsoft Cortana as a less-malicious version of BonziBUDDY, as stated in his "Windows 10 Destruction" video.
In April 2007, readers of the online computer news website PCWorld voted Bonzi Buddy 6th on a list of "The Top 10 Most Annoying Tech Products". One reader is 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".
Adware or Spyware
A number of sources identify BonziBUDDY as spyware and adware too. A claim the company disputes. In 2002 an article in Consumer Reports Web Watch labelled BonziBUDDY as spyware, stating that it is a Backdoor Santa in that it collects information from users. Among the activities the program is said to engage in and include resetting the user's web browser homepage to bonzi.com constantly without the user's permission, prompting and tracking various information about the user, and serving advertisements.
The Spyware Removal Database at Safer Networking (creators of the popular antivirus software Spybot - Search & Destroy) states that "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.
Antivirus company Symantec states that BonziBUDDY may collect usage statistics when certain keywords are typed in the browser. Although Symantec refers to Bonzi as adware, such behavior is typical for spyware.
There were two legal cases involving the software.
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 a Windows dialogue box and to make them appear 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 9 with BonziBUDDY.
- Prior to the adware take down, BonziBUDDY was hated for years, people have said this was an annoying download. As the adware has been down for years, this is now considered a favorite harmless malware by many.
- ↑ Geschwind, Bill (2004-08-11). "AppNote: Automating the installation and execution of Spybot Search & Destroy with ZENworks". Novell Cool Solutions. Novell. http://www.novell.com/coolsolutions/appnote/3590.html. Retrieved on 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. http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,3973,1111245,00.asp. Retrieved on 2006-09-07.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "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. http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/02/bonziumg.htm. Retrieved on 2006-09-07.
- ↑ "Your top 10 most annoying tech products". PCWorld. http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,130647-page,6-c,techindustrytrends/article.html. Retrieved on 2007-07-14.
- ↑ "Prying Eyes Lurk Inside Your PC; Spyware Spawns Efforts at Control.". The Gale Group, Inc.. Archived from the original on 2012-07-17. https://archive.is/Ftb5. Retrieved on 2007-11-16.
- ↑ "Breaking: MySpace Backlash Sighted In Mainstream Media!". Businessweek. http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/FineOnMedia/archives/2006/09/breaking_myspac.html?campaign_id=rss_blog_fineonmedia. Retrieved on 2007-11-16.
- ↑ Robertson Barrett (2002-11-21). "Five Major Categories of Spyware". Consumer Reports. http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/dynamic/privacy-investigations-categories-spy.cfm. Retrieved on 2006-09-07.
- ↑ "Spyware Guide's entry on BonziBUDDY". http://www.spywareguide.com/product_show.php?id=512. Retrieved on 2006-09-07.
- ↑ "ADW_BONJING.A". Trend Micro. 2004-06-08. http://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/grayware/printerfriendly.asp?GNAME=ADW%5FBONJING%2EA. Retrieved on 2007-07-14.
- ↑ "ADW_BONZIBUDDY.C". Trend Micro. 2004-06-08. http://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/grayware/ve_GraywareDetails.asp?GNAME=ADW_BONZIBUDDY.C. Retrieved on 2007-07-14.
- ↑ "Adware.Bonzi". 2007-02-13. http://www.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2003-080114-0710-99&tabid=2. Retrieved on 2009-04-05.
- ↑ Brian Morrissey (2003-05-27). "Bonzi Settles Deceptive Ad Suit". internetnews.com. http://www.internetnews.com/IAR/article.php/2212851. Retrieved on 2003-06-06. archive.org link
- ↑ Brian Morrissey (2002-12-04). "Bonzi Hit With Deceptive-Ad Complaint". internetnews.com. http://www.internetnews.com/IAR/article.php/1551941. Retrieved on 2003-06-18. archive.org link