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MS revokes 'adware' distributor's community award

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Microsoft has pulled a developer award to a programmer linked to adware distribution one week after granting the accolade.

Cyril Paciullo, the developer of Messenger Plus and Messenger Plus Live, lost his Most Valued Professionals (MVPs) endorsement after critics pointed out that the software had been used to distribute an ad-ware program called Lop as well as its overt function of allowing IM users to stack chat windows. Security experts said that handing Paciullo an award made a mockery of the MVPs program, which is designed to recognise developers who are active in lending their technical expertise towards communities supporting Microsoft products or technologies. Around 2,600 people worldwide have earned the gong.

"Microsoft is rewarding someone that has an active involvement with one of the most maligned names in PC hijacking," Christopher Boyd, a Microsoft Security MVP who works as a director of FaceTime Security Labs, wrote in a blog entry last week.

Stung by the criticism, Microsoft decided to pull Paciullo's award while maintaining its process of selecting people suitable for the MVP award remain "rigorous", an assessment somewhat undermined by the finding that Microsoft's own anti-virus scanner detects Messenger Plus as potentially malign.

"Cyril Paciullo was awarded with MVP status this year on the basis of his technical expertise and strong community contribution. However, his active MVP Award status was revoked as soon as the extent of the connection between his application and spyware was made apparent to the MVP Program," Microsoft said in a statement, IDG reports.

Paciullo (AKA Patchou) is yet to comment public ally on his row. His website (http://www.msgpluslive.net/help/faq/privacy/#open-port) acknowledges that some security programs categorise a "sponsor program" included with Messenger Plus as potentially malign while reassuring surfers that bundled software is benign and that users have the option of declining to install the bundled software, or unistalling it once its on their machines.

Anti-spyware firm Sunbelt Software has a full write up of the link between Messenger Plus and LOP here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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