Saturday, January 21, 2006

Spyware Help: Intent Matters Alot

In a forum I recently came across, which was set up by a highly respectable Windows expert, I saw a user offering help to another user. Nothing odd there, happens millions of times per day I'm certain. As it was pertaining to a specific infection, I clicked the links posted to investigate to see if there was some new tool which I could recommend that would clean it all out. (As an aside, I know of no one single app which can eliminate this infection entirely on its own)

I immediately recognized some of the apps recommended as at one time or another, being on Eric Howe's Rogue\Suspect List (one still is). Again, nothing all that earth shattering. Being involved in this business we call anti-spyware for nearly two years you get familiar fairly quickly with the vendors who are not quite up to snuff, so to speak. Specifically using borderline methods of advertising, having apps which use similar names, to confuse users into thinking they are getting some other closely resembled legit app, databases that are obscenely outdated, scanning which produces multiple false\positives and other things.

After recognizing this information on the site was outdated and incorrect, and seeing that users could be perhaps tricked into buying something they thought would work, I posted information for the fix which had been being used for weeks with amazing success, and it was free. I then also informed users that the previously posted info, was posted not necessarily to help, but to generate click-thrus and perhaps gain some monetary rewards.

I then noticed in another thread, the same user offering help to another person for a different infection. It's one thing to want to get the word out about your site and\or product. Quite simple, buy advertising from other sites to promote it. It's entirely another thing to post your links into a forum for the sole purpose of driving users to your site to buy your products. And most all forums have rules against it, mine does. This is spamming a board. It should not be tolerated and should be pointed out immediately to the moderators or administrators of the board. Which was done by me, no reply as yet tho from anyone.

That user who posted the self serving links tried to defend himself saying it was his right to offer help to others by driving them to pay sites. Why in the world would anyone want to do that? Go to a pay site, when it can be cleaned for free? Simple answer: they may not be properly informed. More importantly, why would anyone try to drum up business in this fashion? Simple answer, greed. But this isn't really anything new, anti-spyware vendors have been doing this for a long time, and it's doubtful it will ever stop.

The user then went on to flat out lie and say he visited my site and saw ads on it!! And that I should get off of my high horse and stop slamming my 'competitors'. You will never see ads on any site I own or that I am the sole administrator. I'm not in it for the money, I just want to offer help to unsuspecting Internet users and new-to-the-Internet uneducated users. Plain and simple.

I also found in the same week, the same user offering the same self serving links to users in another forum. I contacted the mods and was immediately replied to, and they would be watching the user.

My whole point of this is to try and inform users that sometimes, help being offered is not being offered with the best intentions. It's being offered with the caveat that the one offering is going to be rewarded monetarily.

And in my opinion, it is the worse kind of help, driven by personal gain, not personal satisfaction. JMHO

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