Bleeping Computer sued by Enigma Software over moderator's forum post
Developer hunts down critics, flings sueball
Bleeping Computer bills itself as "a technical support site and a self-education tool for the novice user to learn basic concepts about computer technology". Most IT people know it as the website you go to when you've got a Windows PC infected with malware.
Calling the post in question a "review" is being charitable. It is a collection of hyperlinks and statements that describe some users' problems with SpyHunter. Enigma Software disputes what is posted, and has released this statement.
The legal embroilment with Bleeping Computer is not a surprise. Enigma Software has previously lobbed legal threats at people who have badmouthed SpyHunter.
If you work with Windows desktops, especially personal PCs, you have probably run across ComboFix. Bleeping Computer is the home of ComboFix.
Combofix is a very powerful tool for removing malware from Windows-based PCs. If not used properly, it absolutely can break your system. If you know what you're doing, it can save systems other anti-malware solutions can't touch.
In addition to Combofix, the Bleeping Computer forums are the place on the internet to figure out how to remove any piece of malware, adware, spyware or potentially unwanted programs. They are populated with experts in the careful and considered use of a wide range of anti-*ware applications, and there is always someone available who actually understands a HiJackThis log.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Bleeping Computer is a vital part of the Internet's immune system.
Comment: Why not just cave?
Why doesn't Bleeping Computer just cave in to Enigma Software's demands? The answer is credibility. Bleeping Computer is what it is because it has established and maintained a particular reputation that is critical when dealing with malware, especially when ransomware such as CryptoLocker can bring an entire network to its knees in short order.
If Bleeping Computer kowtows to Enigma Software's demands, then reviews, recommendation and advice from Bleeping Computer instantly become suspect. How can a reader know if information was added or subtracted through legal coercion?
Should Enigma Software's tactics prove successful, another issue must be considered. If independent sites can be bullied into submission because they can't afford the legal fees to defend themselves, any developer willing to flex some legal muscle can legitimise their applications, no matter what their applications actually do.
The sword cuts both ways. If Enigma Software is in the right and Bleeping Computer has mischaracterised it, then Bleeping Computer's carefully built platform and reputation can have a disproportionately negative effect on Enigma Software's products.
According to Bleeping Computer, Spyhunter is said to employ aggressive advertising, coupled with some dubious auto-subscription-renewal policies and an uninstaller that supposedly does not work correctly under all circumstances. Bleeping Computer considers these all to be concerning application behaviour items.
The Register will keep an eye out for new developments. In the meantime, Bleeping Computer has launched a fundraising drive here. ®