StopBadware.org adds to its hall of shame list

StopBadware.org (http://www.stopbadware.com), the organization dedicated to highlighting software that consumers might prefer to avoid, Wednesday added another round of software programs to its "Badware Watch List."

The latest inductees into this hall of software shame include four programs: FunCade, a gaming application that comes bundled with BullsEye and NaviSearch; Team Taylor Made's "Jessica Simpson Screensaver"; a scanner called "UnSpyPC; and WinFixer 2005 and 2006. Each was cited by StopBadware.org for specific reasons that relate to deceptive installation, causing harm to other computers, modifying other software or transmitting user data, interfering with computer use or being difficult to uninstall completely.

These four software programs are the second round of selections for the Badware Watch List, following the first batch of "badware" announced last March, which included Kazaa, MediaPipe, SpyAxe and Waterfalls 3.

FunCade is named as spyware which when removed, does not uninstall bundled adware and spyware programs, according to SteopBadware.org.

Team Taylor Made's "Jessica Simpson Screensaver" is said to bundle more than a dozen pieces of software, including undisclosed adware, a 'dialer' which automatically dials for pay-porn sites with a modem, and toolbars that modify the installer's browser.

John Palfrey, co-director of StopBadware.org and executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, called the Jessica Simpson Screensaver from Team Taylor Made "one of the worst badware applications we've ever seen," adding, "It's almost a textbook example of a small software vendor using deceptive means to fund a software business."

"UnSpyPC" is described as identifying legitimate software, such as VMWare, WinPatrol and Windows Defender as spyware. It's also said to add an UnSpyPC icon to Internet Explorer without notification.

In the case of WinFixer 2005 and 2006, StopBadware.org says both versions "deceptively attempt to get the user to purchase the full version of its software by making exaggerated claims about 'severe system threats' on the user's computer, while also making it difficult to opt out of purchasing the software altogether." WinFixer 2005 is said to install a rootkit, making the program difficult to detect and remove.

StopBadware.org, (originally called "The Stop Badware Coalition") is the group formed with Harvard University, Oxford University and Consumer Reports last January to identify unethical and harmful software programs through lab testing and legal reviews of end-user licenses and other documentation.

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Ellen Messmer

Network World (US online)
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