Feeds

Industry coalition takes stab at defining spyware

Grappling with semantics

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Technology companies have formed an alliance with public interest groups to tackle spyware. Membership of the Anti-Spyware Coalition (here) includes large software developers, anti-spyware companies and others. Current members include AOL, Computer Associates, EarthLink, HP, Lavasoft, McAfee, Microsoft, PC Tools, Symantec, Trend Micro, Yahoo!, UC Berkeley, the Business Software Alliance and the Cyber Security Industry Alliance.

ASC has ventured where angels fear to tread in drafting a definition for "spyware" (below), which it's offering up for public debate. Comments (to ASC not El Reg, thank you) are invited until 12 August after which ASC will formulate a "final definition" for spyware which it promises will incorporate the best recommendations for the public at large.

Spyware and other potentially unwanted technologies are those that "impair users' control over material changes that affect their user experience, privacy, or system security; use of their system resources, including what programs are installed on their computers; or collection, use, and distribution of their personal or otherwise sensitive information."

That's a bit of a mouthful but ASC hopes its definition will settle a few pub arguments and allow vendors to concentrate on weightier matters, such as fighting the growth of spyware. "One of the biggest challenges we've had with spyware has been agreeing on what it is," said Ari Schwartz, Associate Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, which has led the work of the group. "The anti-spyware community needs a way to quickly and decisively categorize the new programs spawning at exponential rates across the Internet. The definitions will serve as a foundation for all future efforts to help users make more informed decisions about which programs to keep and which to delete."

To help consumers, the coalition has drafted an extensive glossary of terms like adware, port scanner, screen scraper, and others commonly associated with unwanted programs. If they get around to defining virus, worm, Trojan and root kit then we'd really be onto something.

The ASC has also outlined common procedures for dispute resolution for vendors who believe their software has been unfairly flagged by an anti-spyware company as part of its efforts to make the practices of anti-spyware companies more transparent.The organisation is also offering consumers tips on how to stay clear of spyware infestation here. ®

Related stories

Vendors exit anti-spyware group (COAST)
Anti-spyware group collapses
Adware firm 180solutions in image makeover
MS downgrades Claria adware detection
Judge bans company's deceptive anti-spyware claims
UK preps major security awareness campaign
US moves towards anti-spyware law

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?