Kaspersky beats Zango in malware classification case
Right to call spade a digging implement won
Kaspersky Lab has secured a legal victory against notorious adware firm Zango, with a ruling that goes a long way towards protecting security software developers from nuisance lawsuits from the developers of internet pests in future.
The judgment might also protects security researchers from legal threats when disclosing vulnerabilities.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Kaspersky Lab was within its rights to develop technology that interfered with the operation of Zango's crudware. Zango argued that defining its software as malware interfered with its ability to do business with its "customers", but the judges ruled that Kaspersky was entitled to immunity under provision within the Communications Decency Act (CDA), as a provider of "interactive computer services".
Zango sued Kaspersky Lab in a failed bid to oblige the security firm to reclassify its adware software as benign, allowing what were previously classified as potentially undesirable programs to operate unimpeded. The appeals court backed a lower court ruling that Kaspersky was entitled to classify Zango's software as potentially malign, in a judgment praised by the Russian security software and services firm.
The ruling protects a consumer’s choice to determine what information and software is allowed on their computing systems, and protects the ability of anti-malware vendors to identify and label software programs that may be potentially unwanted and harmful to computer users. Kaspersky Lab's software is designed to do just that. Users can adjust the settings to allow certain programs of their choice to come through at all times.
Zango, whose software was also listed as adware by Symantec and McAfee, went tits-up in April, so it isn't around to contest the ruling. The firm sued both Kaspersky Labs and PC Tools (now part of Symantec) over alleged interference with its business and trade libel back in May 2007.
The PC Tools lawsuit was quickly rejected by a judge but the same complaints against Kaspersky took much longer to resolve, amid legal wrangling over whether the Russian firm provided a product or a service. Only a service was clearly within the safe harbour provisions of the CDA and anti-virus updates meant that Kaspersky's technology qualified as a service, appeal court judges decided, in rejecting one of the grounds of Zango's appeal.
The Kaspersky ruling was welcomed by other security firms. SecureWorks notes that "Good Samaritan" blocking of offensive material is included as a safe harbour provision in the Communications Decency Act, alongside better-known rules that protect US ISPs from getting into trouble for anything their users say online.
SecureWorks goes on to argue that the Good Samaritan provisions that helped Kaspersky might also extend to security researchers who publish vulnerability information, especially where this information helps in the development of countermeasures. That's a piece of reasoning based on theory not on actual case law, as SecureWorks notes.
In a nod to controversy over news that at scheduled presentation on ATM (cash machine) security at BlackHat has been pulled at the last minute. Nick Chapman of SecureWorks concludes: "It would be nice to have another tool to defend against legal threats that have unfortunately prevented some security talks." ®
like it or not...
@"Hopefully to kneecap future generations of annoying, useless, intrusive companies whose idea of a business model is infiltrating someone elses machine and squatting there."
My first question is do you know how Zango was installed?
Second question, Does a user actively selecting to install Zango, either by downloading from the source or by installing alongside another app that they got for free, because the publisher of the other app funded their development through it, actually sound like infiltrating?
so my third question is are you an idiot?
All users who were "infected" by Zango at one point of another actively chose to download something that was either just Zango, or had Zango attached as a revenue stream for a third part, (whose software you were installing).
The only people who installed Zango unaware were those who just clicked next several times without reading.
Personally, I'll agree, I did find Zango annoying, but I chose to install it to use a third party application that had aligned it's self with it.
I chose to use that software, may people chose to use that software.
it's not like Zango was some kind of dirty trojan that "infiltrated" people's computers, they chose to install it.
After their death I was reading the post mortem blog posts, the ex-directors had released.
They were completely honest about the mistakes that they made, in their business, but also honest about how companies like Kappersky saying that their software was malware had crippled their business.
Personally, I don't think that anybody who chooses to install software should complain about it.
and I don't think that they should call it malware. they ruined a business with their miss-classification. and a court ruling should definitely have been against them. (kapersky)
Yes, I agree Zango did use resources and upset the user experience, for that same reason I'm now classifying Java as malware. for it persistently runs a java quick start on a machine I have at home to reduce load times.
I'll also classify Itunes as malware for it's service that runs persistently, (despite the fact that I've not plugged in an Ipod into my computer in well over a year).
Yes, I chose to install those applications. but the fact that they run all the time degrades my user experience.
so that's the same situation. an app that a user chose to install that always runs, degrades the user experience, would kapersky have the balls to classify Itunes as malware? and do you think that the ruling would be the same when Apple took them to court...
re: the subtitle, etc
Greetings and salutations.
Here in America, we call it a F***king shovel....(as the joke goes - and yes...this is a VERY on-topic comment)
However, this is a good example of why the CDA is a poorly written law that got pushed through on the emotional wave of "it's for the children"...instead of some rational way of putting up appropriate roadblocks to minimize the chance of an emotionally traumatic image being dumped on a person who is not yet mature enough to deal with it. The law's language SPECIFICALLY targets pornography through most of the text, but, alas, has a really bad "and other objectionable material" clause tossed in at the end. This massive, Big Rig sized loophole is probably the basis of the lawsuit, and, really should be removed.
Actually, I think the whole CDA should be stricken from the books, and, the responsibility of dealing with the kid's exposure to sex be dumped back in the parent's lap, where it used to be and where the responsibility SHOULD be.
But that is just me.
In good faith
@Spanky. You need to check the definition of acting in good faith. None of the examples you give are such. Indeed they are clearly acting in bad faith, would be actionable in their own right, and in no way protected. Just because you say you are acting in good faith does nothing to change the matter of whether you are or not.