– Adware makers threaten critics

Adware makers threaten critics

By Brian Livingston

It’s bad enough that adware, which can have negative effects on our PCs, has already infected an astonishing number of machines — 80% in one U.S. study. Now, on top of everything else, adware makers are pressuring anti-adware advocates to stop listing their programs as candidates for removal.

In the newest development, has sent cease-and-desist letters to several anti-adware sites. Some of the Webmasters I’ve spoken with say they received the letters on Feb. 15 or 16. Sites that have confirmed to me that they’ve received the letters include Castle Cops, Spyware Warrior, Spyware Guide, and Sunbelt Software, the maker of the CounterSpy adware removal program.

Brian prefers the term adware above all others. I think he has some great thoughts on this…. read on:

Why adware is bad

At this point in our story, I’d like to stop for a moment. Let’s be clear why I prefer to use the term “adware,” not “spyware,” for the class of products we’re talking about.

As I wrote in the Jan. 27 newsletter, adware doesn’t need to “phone home” in order to slow down a PC, conflict with other software, or pose security risks. For this reason, I believe it’s pointless to try to divide adware into subcategories, such as “malware” and “spyware.”

I define adware as: A secondary computer program (1) that is installed as a result of a person using a primary, sought-out program or Web site, or the Internet in general, and (2) that generates revenue or other benefits for the promoter of the secondary program.

It’s the “revenue or other benefits” part that causes problems for PC users. A secondary program — one that users didn’t seek out — can only generate benefits for its promoter if the secondary program becomes installed. Such programs, therefore, have no financial incentive to tell users about potential downsides.

Much more in the free Edition of

Thanks Brian! I have been enjoying your paid subscription very much!

I have been toying with what words to describe these programs as discussion build over the audacity of these folks.

Especially since these ‘programs’ are often detrimental in one way or another, cause computers to slow, get crashy, and sometimes crash and burn, turning folk’s nice shiny P4s with 256MB RAM to a vintage 486 by comparison.

A name by any other would still smell badly … or was that a rose by any other name would still stink? It’s been an interesting challenge, especially in light of the articles listed in the last day or two and iSearh/iDownload’s letters to several sites.

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