Spyware by any other name

Summary:Spyware makers know they don't enjoy a particularly good reputation. Last year a representative of WhenU tried to convince me the company was reforming its ways, and recently 180solutions has been sending me presentations and PDF files outlining its new code of conduct.

Spyware makers know they don't enjoy a particularly good reputation. Last year a representative of WhenU tried to convince me the company was reforming its ways, and recently 180solutions has been sending me presentations and PDF files outlining its new code of conduct. In fact, 180solutions joined the Consortium of Anti-Spyware Technology vendors (COAST) to prove it was opposed to spyware. That COAST would let 180solutions join only called into question COAST's own mission and ethics. Both 180solutions and WhenU take the position that spyware is bad, and that they don't make spyware. Apparently, these companies assume they can define the word "spyware" any way they like. The companies' software may not raid your bank accounts, but it does serve ads based on what sorts of Web sites you visit. In my book, that's spyware.

I'd also like to disabuse people of the notion that a marketing campaign shows a company is reforming its ways. 180solutions insists in its marketing materials that its software is now easy to uninstall. A skeptic by nature, I had to test that assertion. I installed Zango, 180solutions' own software platform it uses to serve up free games. I played one of its available games for a while, then chose to uninstall Zango. The uninstaller launched a Web page from 180solutions' site asking why I wanted to get rid of the program, a tactic I particularly dislike. After uninstalling, I looked through the folders on my hard drive and found the Zango folder and the game folder all packed with various files, including installers for Zango. I wouldn't be surprised if Zango could reinstall itself--but, most importantly, this was not what I would call a clean uninstall. If 180solutions and WhenU want to clean up their acts, they should get out of the adware business.

Topics: Malware

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