Unprincipled Advertisers

By Paul F. Roberts  |  Posted 2005-05-26 Print this article Print

?"> When asked about accounts of users having difficulty removing SpywareNo, Simmons said the behavior is "not usual for SpywareNo." "This may be a trick used by those unprincipled advertisers," she said. Spyware experts such as Turner and Howes dont dispute Simmons explanation of the problem, and say that the version of the program that is available on the SpywareNo Web site is at least easy to remove. But that doesnt excuse SpywareNo of responsibility, they said.
"Im not sure what the case is, but SpywareNo has a terrible problem—to have rampant reports of stealth installs and spyware and SpywareNo running on the same desktop. These are just unconscionable practices," Howes said.
Reputable spyware vendors that use affiliates to promote their wares have strict terms in their affiliate agreements that specify what kinds of behaviors, such as stealth installs, are not acceptable, Howes said. "Reputation is one of the most important things you possess, especially when youre dealing with adware or spyware victims whose trust has already been violated once," he said. SpywareNo does prohibit unsavory installation practices in its affiliate agreement, but the company has no way to check whether affiliates are abiding by the agreement, Simmons wrote. "Unfortunately it is easy for them to say OK, but not so easy for us to check that," she said. But Howes and Turner said they have doubts about SpywareNo that go beyond the companys marketing strategy. SpywareNo scored poorly in a test that Howes performed on a machine that was free of spyware and adware, displaying a list of infections on the machine just seconds after a scan was initiated. "The list came back way too quickly for [SpywareNo] to have done a thorough job of scanning the machine for spyware and adware. The numbers of false positives were ridiculous," he said. Howes speculated that the warnings about spyware infections, accompanied by strong language such as "severe threat," may just be false positives used to pressure users into purchasing the full application from SpywareNo. For a product that provides questionable spyware protection, SpywareNo is no bargain, either: $59.95 for a 12-month subscription, compared with $19.95 for proven products such as Web Root Software Inc.s Spy Sweeper and products by LavaSoft and others, Howes said. The program is just the latest spark in an explosion of rogue anti-spyware programs in the past year, he said. "We have 192 listed [rogue anti-spyware] applications, and we add a few more every week," he said. Rampant spyware infections and a growing base of potential customers desperate to rid their systems of the noxious programs are to blame, he said. "These are people who are victims. Theyre scared and frustrated and angry. And theyre people who are not very knowledgeable about the problem afflicting them," he said. "Its a market thats ripe for exploitation." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.


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