Microsoft's Anti-Spyware Conflicts Of Interest

from the pandora's-box-is-opening... dept

When Microsoft bought Giant's anti-spyware a few weeks ago, we joked about how odd it was that the company needed to buy another company to plaster over its own security holes, rather than simply fixing the root cause of those problems in the first place. However, there are a few more interesting questions raised by Microsoft's newly released beta anti-spyware offering -- which is getting some very positive reviews (as did Giant's offering -- which this essentially is). First, Ed Foster wonders if Microsoft's anti-spyware offering sets up the company to be in an awkward position concerning end-user license agreements. Microsoft, of course, is a big believer in EULAs. It's the basis of much of their business that a user must abide by the EULA -- even if they have no ability to negotiate over it. However, many EULAs from spyware/adware companies claim that you can't use anti-spyware products to remove them. So, removing them with Microsoft's offering would violate the EULA. Of course, Microsoft gets around this issue in their own EULA (where else would it be?) by basically saying that the liability rests not in them for pointing out and removing the spyware, but in you the user for pushing the button to remove the spyware, against the EULA. Of course, the other way Microsoft could avoid this issue is to pull a Yahoo and not actually remove the spyware of certain companies. While certain adware companies have been looking to bribe anti-spyware companies into taking them off the list, Broadband Reports wondered how Microsoft would respond to such an approach. Already, the company faced just such a question, as the anti-spyware software identifies Weatherbug as a possible threat. Weatherbug, of course, used to be a big adware provider, but claims that they've reformed from their earlier ways and no longer do such things. As such, they were peeved about the classification -- even if it's described as a small threat. Microsoft quickly backed down and agreed to remove Weatherbug from the list. Of course, in my own test of the software, it did find Weatherbug -- which makes me wonder. I've never installed the product myself... so if a product gets installed without me knowing it, isn't that the exact problem we've been discussing? It certainly seems like malware to me.

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  • identicon
    Mark, 10 Jan 2005 @ 8:08am

    MS Malware 1.0

    You can bank on MS taking the Yahoo approach on this one. The company always following the money, without deviation. While there's money to be made by providing consumers with a malware-free system, certainly, there's even more to be made by advertising Windows as malware-free, and then taking money through the backdoor from companies willing to bribe their way off the list. As with their security initiative, in which they focused their energy on convincing us Windows was secure rather than making it secure and allowing us to make up our own minds, the malware initiative will be more about marketing messages than actual substantive change.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2005 @ 9:29am

    No Subject Given

    ehh. Well all I have to say is Spybot and Adaware said my computer was perfectly clean. Yet I was having issues [weird ones i admit, my email wouldn't retrieve certain times]. I tried Microsoft AntiSpyware and it found another 20 or so, some of them classified as High and Extreme. I cleaned them all out, havn't had a single issue since then. So I sure as hell applaud the product [yes I know they bought it, and just rebranded it]. I've never had weatherbug on my machine [installed myself or just found].

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      thecaptain, 11 Jan 2005 @ 5:21am

      Re: No Subject Given

      Yeah that's all well and good until the next slimeball develops another excretable app and PAYS Microsoft to keep it off the list...

      Or rather becomes a "Microsoft partner"

      Then you'll be running back to other software to clean the mess up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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