Tough week ahead for 'badware' companies

The Center for Democracy and Technology and the Stopbadware Coalition will publish reports next week detailing malware and adware advertisers.

The fight against invasive software will take a step forward this week as the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and the Google-backed Stopbadware Coalition will release two separate reports that state the names of undesirable software programs and the advertisers who help fund them.

On Monday, the CDT will publish its report on the major advertisers who are behind so-called "adware" software, which is "increasingly clogging users' computers," according to a statement from the digital public policy organization.

"This report untangles the adware funding model and identifies several of the mainstream companies that help fuel the growing Internet scourge," the CDT said.

Two days later, the Stopbadware Coalition is set to release its first report, which will name several software programs to its Badware Watch List, which it is billing as a community generated list of unwanted software.

Founded in January of this year with funding from Google, Lenovo Group and Sun Microsystems, Stopbadware is modeled on the Consumer Reports Web Watch site. It intends to compile a list of companies that stick computers with annoying pop-ups, spyware and other malicious code.

The practice of naming adware advertisers can put pressure on adware supporters, but organizations like CDT need to be sure they're doing it in a responsible way, said Dave Cole, a director with Symantec Security Response.

"The advertiser may not have known what they were getting into," he said. "Does that mean they're relieved of their responsibility? No. But to come after these advertisers -- there's a time for that, and it has to be done in the right way. I would hope that before they start calling out these advertisers that they've made them aware [of the problem]."

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Robert McMillan

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