NEWS FROM THE LAB - Friday, July 21, 2006

Spy vs. Spy Posted by Sean @ 09:29 GMT

Our spyware researchers really hate the word "affiliate". Affiliate marketing drives spyware. From the worst known offenders to questionable rogue anitspyware software - affiliates trying to sell-by-any-means are the engine behind the problem.

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Known rogues install maliciously. But it's often difficult to pin down the real rogues. There's an incredible amount of just mediocre antispyware out there that isn't malicious, but they use the same marketing and sales techniques as the rogues. Lots of ads (paid for by commission seeking affiliates) - No trial period - Offering a free scan - But if it finds something you then have to pay to clean it off your system. And they really get in your face about buying. The known rogues present outright false positives - sometimes offering to clean the malware that prompted you to download the rogue in the first place. The mediocre guys might also have false positives, but due to bugs in their code, not outright lies. Adding detections for second-rate software as malware isn't something we do, but we can blog about it to help you be aware.

Many fall into a gray area and our researchers have to put them to the test. But regardless of anything else, all of these guys, malicious or not, make apparently outrageous claims. Affiliates repeat the claims over and over in ads to drive sales and get their cut.

Check out this one site we visited, which we will not name here, but it was nuker.com. They claim to have a very positive review from Download.com. Only it isn't a link, just an image. We've searched Download.com's site for the supposed review and cannot locate it, not to our surprise. Download.com is a trusted source and these guys are trying to subvert that trust to their own ends.

They also link to a Yahoo! "Headline" on their site. But if you follow the links, you find it's from the PR news section of Yahoo Business and that they themselves uploaded the article. They're quoting themselves! Think you want to try their product?