Feeds

StopBadware.org to name and shame spyware scumbags

Backing from Google, Sun and Lenovo

Reducing security risks from open source software

Academic institutions and tech companies have teamed up to fight spyware with a new name and shame initiative. StopBadware.org, launched today by the Harvard University's Berkman Centre and the Oxford Internet Institute, aims to establish a neighborhood watch-style scheme that will put pressure on purveyors of unsavoury programs that snoop on consumer's net habits.

The project is supported by Google, Sun, and Lenovo. Consumer Reports WebWatch, a grant-funded project of the Consumers Union, is taking a pro-bono role as special consumer adviser.

The project has created a website, www.StopBadware.org, where net users can check to see if programs they encounter are potentially damaging or benign. StopBadware.org hopes to educate consumers and software developers as well as shining a light on firms that make millions using sneaky pop-ups and tracking software to spy on users' surfing habits or, in the worst cases, steal their personal information, such as credit card or Social Security numbers.

StopBadware.org will publish "user-friendly" reports on downloads it has identified as badware, as well as more detailed academic studies on the problem of malicious code. It will solicit and publish horror stories from net users adversely affected by badware (malware).

The project is directed and advised by a clutch of net luminaries such as John Palfrey of the Harvard University Berkman Centre for Internet & Society, Jonathan Zittrain of Oxford's Internet University, Vint Cerf and Esther Dyson.

According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project, about 59m American adults have malware on their PC. Malware-related problems prompted computer users to spend roughly $3.5bn in 2003 and 2004 on replacing or repairing hardware, Consumer Reports WebWatch calculates. Leaving aside the argument that such replacements are rarely necessary, spyware programs clearly create a huge nuisance.

"Badware and its nastiest effects - violation of privacy, identity theft, and computer hijacking - hit consumers without warning," says Beau Brendler, director of Consumer Reports WebWatch. "WebWatch research shows these and other threats are turning almost a third of US Internet users away from the web. We believe StopBadware.org is a great way to fight back." ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.