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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, May 2nd, 2008 @ 10:35am

    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.

     

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  2.  
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    jonnyq, May 2nd, 2008 @ 10:43am

    Re: Not profitable

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

    Of course, as a politician, you get more credit for writing a new law with unintended consequences than when you enforce an existing one that does the same thing.

     

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  3.  
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    BlowURmindBowel, May 2nd, 2008 @ 10:43am

    Agreed...

    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...

     

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  4.  
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    zeb, May 2nd, 2008 @ 10:48am

    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.

     

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  5.  
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    Phil McCraken, May 2nd, 2008 @ 11:07am

    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.

     

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  6.  
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    Overcast, May 2nd, 2008 @ 11:07am

    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.

     

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  7.  
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    James, May 2nd, 2008 @ 11:40am

    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.

     

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  8.  
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    Peet McKimmie (profile), May 2nd, 2008 @ 12:00pm

    Questionable business practices

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


    "Up to 8Mb/s", "Unlimited downloads", "Only $6.99 month!!! (for first 3 months)"...

    'Nuff said?

     

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  9.  
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    joe, May 2nd, 2008 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Questionable business practices

    Joel, if pushing ads into places where they weren't wanted wasn't profitable, why does everyone I know receive an ever-increasing supply of spam?

     

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

  10.  
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    TX CHL Instructor (profile), May 2nd, 2008 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Re: Questionable business practices

    Because spam does not cost the sender anything, so a response rate of 0.000001% is profitable. If email cost one cent per 100 messages, the spam problem would disappear.

     

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  11.  
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    Trevlac, May 3rd, 2008 @ 9:55pm

    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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  12.  
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    Evan Morrison, May 4th, 2008 @ 10:40am

    get rid of adware

    The consequences in court as result of the new laws are a great idea. For quite a while in my home computer repair it was probably 75% of the work. When you look at tens of millions of people-- that's a lot of dough!

     

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  13.  
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    Esahc (profile), May 5th, 2008 @ 8:16am

    BS

    I recently had to fix my neighbors computer, because it was infected with over 150 different spyware, adware, viruses and other such. So is adware still a problem? YES. Dose it need to be legislated, no. I fixed her computer & protected it with free software.

     

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  14.  
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    shenshen, Aug 14th, 2008 @ 11:32am

    Does anybody know if Limewire, Frostwire and such hold threats or viruses or spyware and such; just while we are on the subject of threatening software i'd just thought i'd ask....

     

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


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