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Three New Reports, and "Deceptive Functionality"

Posted on May 23, 2006 - 16:26 by colson

We've finished up another round of reports that look at three pieces of badware: FunCade, UnSpyPC, and WinFixer. The last two seemed quite similar to SpyAxe, in that they don't appear to serve any useful function beyond persuading users to download a full version of their "anti-spyware" software. Unfortunately, their definitions of "spyware" seem to include legitimate software such as HijackThis (for WinFixer) and VMWare, WinPatrol, and Windows Defender (for UnSpyPC).

Although we don't formally have a section in our guidelines to deal with this type of behavior yet, we felt that tagging legitimate software and anti-spyware as "system threats" was sufficiently bad behavior that we needed to flag it. Thus the category "Deceptive Functionality" was born. We're still figuring out the limits for this category, so comments and suggestions are welcome.

Jessica Simpson, Team Taylor Made, and 'bad sites'

Posted on May 16, 2006 - 16:35 by luis

We've recently taken a look at the Jessica Simpson Screensaver from teamtaylormade.com, and it isn't pretty. It claims to have 40 pictures of Ms. Simpson, and our research shows it has nearly as many bundled pieces of spyware- 15 or 16 all told (depending on the download). Only one of them is disclosed by the installer. The full report is, as usual, available from our reports page. If you're curious what a full-blown piece of badware looks like, we recommend taking a read.

We'll probably be looking at more software from teamtaylormade in the coming weeks, because some unscientific sampling suggests that lots more of it is badware. This will be something new for us- focusing a bit more on the site as a whole and less on the software. Stay tuned for updates as figure our way through that process, and try to puzzle out what makes a 'badsite'.

Absolute Yukon Solitaire cleans up

Posted on May 11, 2006 - 19:44 by luis

We recently contacted the folks at Pretty Good Solitaire about old, mirrored copies of their Absolute Yukon Solitaire with attached and unannounced adware. While it certainly wasn't the worst thing we've ever seen (you should see what we'll be blogging about next week!) the old copies of Absolute Yukon were unpleasant and violated our Badware Guidelines. To our pleasant surprise, when we notified them, Goodsol promptly took down the old copy from the mirror site. So kudos to Goodsol for taking this step towards doing the right thing.

The lesson to other small software vendors? Mirrors can be a useful thing, of course- bandwidth still isn't cheap. But if you write badware and later clean up your act, or even if you just write newer, better software, mirrors with badware or old, buggy software can also mar your good name and put your potential customers at risk. So keep track of where you've mirrored things, and make sure you take every copy down when you put up new pieces of software.

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