Bill Sends Spyware, Adware Purveyors Down Divided Paths

While some spyware and adware vendors are trying "to at least appear legitimate" according to spyware definitions, others are hard at work "creating spyware that's much sneakier and harder to remove," according to analysts and anti

As adware and spyware companies hoping to do business in the United States clean up their act in response to the Internet Spyware Prevention Act (I-SPY) recently passed by the House of Representatives, anti-spyware vendors are trying to stay ahead of a growing onslaught of malicious software developed outside of U.S. jurisdiction.

"I think the spyware industry is going to split into two groups," said Mike Healan, editor of "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."

/zimages/3/28571.gifTo read more about the House bill, click here.

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."

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about Aluria, which also runs WhenUs UControl, a free desktop scanning program that removes unwanted spyware programs.

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.

Next Page: Distinguishing between spyware and adware.