"I think the spyware industry is going to split into two groups," said Mike Healan, editor of SpywareInfo.com. "Youll see those trying to at least appear legitimate because of the recent outcry and the House bill, and more malicious developers creating spyware thats much sneakier and harder to remove."
While this ensures a continued market for anti-spyware vendors, it puts them in a tough spot of trying to determine who is legitimate while simultaneously cracking increasingly difficult programs.
Anti-spyware vendor Aluria Software of Lake Mary, Fla., is attempting to do both. The company recently certified adware vendor WhenU Inc. as "Spyware SAFE" while continuing its development of spyware definitions.
Rick Carlson, president of Aluria, said that by leading companies that want to get out of the spyware market into the legitimate ad market, Aluria can help clean up the industry.
"Companies see that theres no future in conducting business the way they traditionally have," Carlson said. "Weve been contacted by many spyware vendors asking how they can become certified, and I think some of them will actually move in that direction."
Richard Stiennon, vice president of threat research at Boulder, Colo.-based Webroot Software, an Aluria competitor, agreed. "Theres been an encouraging sign that they want to work with the anti-spyware companies to comply with definitions for spyware," he said.
At the same time, Stiennon characterized Alurias move to certify WhenU as "dicey," because if users end up considering it spyware, it doesnt matter how the company has defined it. "Ultimately, its playing with the enemy," he said.