Ready?  Ok, it starts like this.

Microsoft MVP Suzi Turner writes a blog about a stealth install of 180solutions software at a crack site:

Just when 180solutions’ CEO Keith Smith is whining about anti-spyware companies, or to use his words “scanning applications”, Spyware Warrior has captured another 180solutions installation with no notice and no consent through a security exploit. From a crack site, too. Nice. Way. To. Go.

Link here.

180Solutions CEO Keith Smith responds to her and she posts it:

We appreciate you and others bringing to our attention this recent completely unacceptable installation of our software. As we’ve said before, we do not condone these types of installations and we are taking every necessary action to hold this individual accountable and to right the wrong that has been done. We have spent the last year investing enormous resources to enforce our code of conduct using legal means and technology enhancements to ensure clear notification and require opt-in consent from the user prior to installation.

But he says this little thing at the end:

Being intentionally deceived by any business partner is painful and frustrating, but it has given us some insight into areas where we can continue to improve our processes and reduce the surface area of exposure we have to these types of abuses. While we suspect fraud will always exist in the online world – just ask Ebay – we are committed to doing whatever we can to prevent the fraud from happening, and if it does occur, take proper corrective action.

Link to Keith’s response here (also, 180 blogged about the crack site thing here).

Spyware warrior Eric Howes then steps in and offers this to Keith:

Keith:

I want to thank you for being so unusually forthright in your response to Suzi’s earlier blog post. In particular, your closing comment was most insightful:

> While we suspect fraud will always exist in the online world
> – just ask Ebay – …

A similar comment appeared on CNET today from a certain “Homer Simpson” (Cory? Sean? Keith? Is this you?):

http://news.com.com/5208-1024-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=11988&messageID=90590&start=-184

> Fraud happens. It happens every day on Google. It’s called click fraud. It
> happens every day on Ebay. It’s called auction fraud. No one is calling for
> the death of Ebay or Google nor should they. To the contrary. They are the
> victims, right? Of course they are. They’ve put mechanisms in place to stop
> it, and when it still happens, they have world-class ways to reverse the
> damage.
>
> Fraudulent installs of adware or any other ware will always happen. What
> companies should be judged by is how they (a) reduce the chances of them
> happening in the first place; and (b) how effectively they clean up when the
> inevitable spill on Aisle 9 occurs.

However the case is put, we can call this the “shit happens” defense, and it is telling that an adware vendor such as 180solutions would have resorted to this defense after fraudulent and illegal installs of its software were exposed for the umpteenth time.

The “shit happens” defense is simply unacceptable for adware vendors like 180solutions, because while internet fraud in general may never be completely eliminated, internet fraud in general, or even on sites like eBay and Google, is the wrong frame of refernce in this situation. The proper comparison is with other software vendors online, 99 percent of whom don’t have a problem with their software being delivered to users’ desktops through security exploits, worms, and bot nets, to say nothing of kiddie-porn infested web sites and torrents. This problem seems to be rather unique to adware vendors such as 180solutions.

Complete post here.

Things are always interesting in spyware land.

 

Alex Eckelberry