Robert Vamosi at CNET thinks the antispyware market should be more like the antivirus market in terms of things like sharing data and listing criteria.

There are a number of differences between viruses and spyware.

Let’s tick them off.

  • Virus writers don’t sue antivirus companies for listing them. This is why a standards coalition to “define” adware is potentially dangerous. It’s only going to give antispyware vendors a nice way to argue their way out of being listed.
  • Antivirus companies don’t capitulate to threats from virus writers to delist them.
  • Putting aside conspiracy theories, virus writers don’t get in bed with virus companies
  • Due to the high number of files and registry entries made on a spyware install, there is a significant risk of false positives in antispyware products, which on desktop antivirus solutions is fairly low (something I suspect the antivirus guys are only now figuring out).
  • There are a few new viruses popping up every once in a while. There are new spyware strains every day.
  • There is a vast amount installed when you get a big spyware infestation. Ben Edelman did a test which showed that ONE Active/X prompt resulted in 31 programs in 58 folders, 786 files and 11,915 registry entries!
  • And his point that there is a cozy community sharing data in the antivirus world, with an assumption that the same doesn’t occur in the antispyware world, is false. There is a tremendous amount of data shared in the community, on hidden experts boards such as Spyware Warrior and Broadband reports.

Alex Eckelberry
PS Remember that the only people screaming for standards are the adware vendors.