from the ctrl-alt-middlefinger dept
Enigma Software -- creator of the SpyHunter suite of malware/adware removal tools -- recently sued BleepingComputer for forum posts by a third-party volunteer moderator that it claimed were defamatory. In addition, it brought Lanham Act trademark infringement claims against the site -- all in response to a couple of posts that portrayed it in a negative light.
The posts pointed out that the company had a history of threatening critics with litigation and had engaged in a variety of deceptive tactics, including triggering false positives to promote its spyware-cleaning products and placing paying customers on a periodic payment plan that ran in perpetuity under the guise of a one-time "removal" payment.
A somewhat bizarre decision by the judge presiding over the case allowed Enigma's questionable complaint to survive BleepingComputer's motion to dismiss. In doing so, the decision also suggested the judge was willing to poke holes in Section 230 protections -- something that's been happening far too frequently in recent months.
This bogus lawsuit should never have gotten this far. Enigma's original defamation claims contained wording found nowhere in the posts it didn't like, and the company had to make several inferences on behalf of the website it was suing to cobble together its complaint. The lack of a decent anti-SLAPP law in New York kept its defamation claims from being ejected on arrival. Faced with having to litigate its way out of this stupid mess, BleepingComputer has gone on the offensive.
The assertions made in its countersuit suggest Enigma Computer has been -- for quite some time -- fighting speech it doesn't like (the forum posts it sued over) with more speech. Unfortunately, if the "more speech" deployed is just shadiness and bogus claims (the same sort of thing it's suing BC for), then "more speech" isn't really a remedy.
Lawrence Abrams of BleepingComputer gives a brief overview of the latest filing at his company's website. (h/t The Register)
Yesterday, BleepingComputer filed its Answer, Affirmative Defenses, and Counterclaims in response to Enigma Software's Second Amended Complaint. In our filing we stand by our statements that Bleeping Computer has done nothing wrong, that there is no smear campaign against Enigma Software, and that any of the statements posted by the site's volunteer, Quietman7, are either true or purely opinion.
On the other hand, since being sued we have uncovered information that makes us believe that Enigma Software or their agents have been allegedly performing a long term campaign of attacks against BleepingComputer.com.
Our counterclaim includes examples of the following:
- Defamation of Bleeping Computer.
- Using our trademark "Bleeping Computer" without our permission.
- Creating web sites and web pages that use the trademark "Bleeping Computer" to associate the site with malware and other unwanted programs.
- Registering at least one domain with our trademark "Bleeping Computer".
- Copying text from BleepingComputer.com and hiding it in non-viewable HTML on their sites for search engine optimization purposes.
- Actively stating that the BleepingComputer.com security utilities called Rkill and Unhide are viruses.
Furthermore, in all of the above examples, the sites are or have been promoting Enigma's SpyHunter product.
The filing [PDF] fills in the details. Enigma (or its agent) has been creating websites that funnel users to its SpyHunter product while simultaneously suggesting BleepingComputer and its tools are malware.
One site is called Adware Bleeping Computer Removal, which hints that "Bleeping Computer" is something that is unwanted and in need of removal. Sure enough, the site offers instructions on how to remove adware while providing a handy link to download SpyHunter. Another Enigma software-pushing site uses the URL bleepingcomputerregistryfix.com.
Others are hidden behind URLs a bit more innocuous. Enginemachinesupplyshop.com contains pages that claim two tools BleepingComputer has created -- RKill and Unhide -- are "malware/viruses" that "infect" users' computers and should be removed. Naturally, the site recommends SpyHunter. It also includes statements that seem far more defamatory than any of the allegations Enigma is suing BleepingComputer for.
rkill.com is a dangerous computer virus which can destroy the infected computer and record your personal information. If you’re not careful when you visit websites or use online resources, your computer is vulnerable to virus attacks. It has the ability to slow down the computer performance seriously. The computer user’s personal information may be got by the virus makers through the virus, such as credit card or bank account details and social contacts’ information. Therefore, the best way to cancel the malicious behaviors of rkill.com is to get rid of it as soon as possible.
This is what RKill actually does.
RKill is a program that was developed at BleepingComputer.com that attempts to terminate known malware processes so that your normal security software can then run and clean your computer of infections. When RKill runs it will kill malware processes and then removes incorrect executable associations and fixes policies that stop us from using certain tools. When finished it will display a log file that shows the processes that were terminated while the program was running.
BleepingComputer provides this utility free of charge to users.
The entire filing is worth reading to see just how much Enigma has allegedly done in an attempt to do damage to BleepingComputer's reputation. From what's shown here, it looks as though Enigma's history as a shady, litigious pusher of dubiously-effective software isn't exactly history. It's still very much a part of its reputation management scheme -- one that does nothing to elevate Enigma's esteem and everything to drag critics in the same business down to its level.