What If Sneaky Adware Died And No One Noticed?

from the well-look-at-that... dept

Eric Goldman has a fascinating post, pointing out that the era of sneaky adware seems to be pretty much over. For quite some time, one of the biggest annoyances online for many users were surreptitiously-installed client side adware programs that would pop up unwanted ads while you did other things. However, it appears that a combination of factors have pretty much wiped them out. Legal rulings found that the surreptitious installs (either with no notice or misleading notices) were fraud. Companies were sued, fined and went out of business. Security firms got better at catching and blocking these programs, and the few remaining firms in the space moved on to other projects (though, some are equally questionable). Either way, most folks probably didn’t notice, because they either learned to avoid the sneaky adware or they were already well enough protected from it. Yet, as Goldman points out, pretty much everyone (with the possible exception of Zango) is no longer in the business of tricking people into installing ad-spewing software.

Of course, Goldman points out that no one has let the politicians in on this news yet, as many are still pushing various anti-spyware legislation that probably doesn’t matter any more. He also points out that this doesn’t mean questionable ad activity isn’t still happening — it’s just moved on from sneakily installing an application on your harddrive. That’s why Phorm (a former client-side adware maker) is in so much hot water these days. Its behavioral ad targeting solution may not be the same as the surreptitious client side ad spewing software — but it’s still surreptitiously watching your behavior and displaying ads based on it.

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Comments on “What If Sneaky Adware Died And No One Noticed?”

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Joel Coehoorn says:

Not profitable

I imagine that part of the solution is also that enough people learned not to click on the ads. Combine all these factors together and I bet it comes down to simply that it wasn’t profitable anymore. But if we relax too much on the issue the balance could easily tip back the other way.

BlowURmindBowel says:


Yeah, I agree with Mr. Coehoorn.

It only takes a single new loophole/exploit/opportunity in any give legal ruling/software/technology/etc. that makes this profitable again and all the sharks will quickly re-converge on the same waters all over again.

Which is why I always carry a few extra fully charged scuba tanks and a high power rifle in my boat…

zeb (user link) says:

The Free Market Wins

Why do we need laws against this crap? Our judicial system is bloated enough as it is. Clearly the market has taken care of this. There is better software available, either free or not, than we had when this mess first started. I say, if you’re not willing to learn how to surf the web safely, you deserve to get hosed with whatever kind of malware gets tossed on your hard drive.

Phil McCraken says:

Re: The Free Market Wins

Because, if we didn’t have “new laws” the politicians would have nothing to do. Did you ever wonder why we need HUNDREDS of new laws every year? Are there really that many NEW issues that require laws, or is it just the business of politics.

The number of federal statutes/laws or state statutes/laws is mind boggling, and they continue to create new ones, when dow it end.

James says:

Re: The Free Market Wins

Actually there are very good reasons for laws against this kind of crap. Yes, the market “seems to have” and “should” take care of such junk, but there’s no reason that a person should be put through such measures.

If your business is built on trying to trick someone into something, its a questionable business at best.

Overcast says:

Well, yeah, but we probably don’t need new laws since enforcing existing laws seems to be doing the trick.

Problem is – they cant’ even enforce half of what’s out there now. They spend their time coming up with stupid laws that really have no ‘weight’ on enforcement needs as compared with REAL issues, like Rape, Murder, Kidnappings – etc.

And some politician is sitting around with panties in a bind over garbage spyware applications. It’s enough just to publicize it.

It’s basically a stupid law that seeks to protect stupid people, made by some stupid politician.

Trevlac says:

Bullshit, as long as I continue to have clients day in and day out with tons of spyware and trojan downloaders, I’m not taking the adware crap lightly. It’s not internet sites that are doing the large part, I see maybe 11% of infected computers [b]without[/b] a P2P client installed, be it Limewire, Frost Wire, Bearshare, Kazaa (yes I’ve still seen Kazaa). Those seem to be the 89% chunk that most of my infected clients’ computers have.

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