Posted: 26 February 2005 at 11:25am | IP Logged
apps reverse course on WhenU
cease-and-desist outbreak might not be so important if it weren't for the fact
that a few anti-adware programs mysteriously removed some other adware programs
from their detection lists recently.
Ad-Aware and Pest Patrol, an
anti-adware program from Computer Associates, raised security experts' hackles
this month when the two utilities quietly delisted WhenU software. WhenU
distributes, among other things, Save.exe, which and other rating systems report to be adware.
that WhenU was inexplicably missing from Ad-Aware's Feb. 5 update file.
According to Howes, Pest Patrol also stopped identifying WhenU around the same
time. Both companies, furthermore, stopped listing WhenU in their online
databases of adware.
As if this didn't anger security experts enough, the
two anti-adware companies said nothing about the changes in their regular user
notifications of additions and deletions to their databases. Howes says users
received no notice of the shifts, causing all sorts of suspicions to
on a Lavasoft forum, employee Chris Fry confirmed on Feb. 15, "WhenU was indeed
removed from our database by research in the last definition file. This was due
to WhenU not scoring more than 2 TAC points at the time. In case it turns out
that the removal was incorrect, WhenU will naturally be reintroduced to the
"TAC points" are behaviors listed in Lavasoft's so-called . The company considers a program that exhibits three or
more of these behaviors to be a risk to PC users and eligible to be removed by
Surprisingly, an adware program can both display ads as its
primary function (gaining one TAC point) and have no apparent way to uninstall
it (another point) and still fall below Ad-Aware's three-point threshold. In my
opinion, any one "TAC point" should be enough to empower a PC user to remove
such a program.
The uproar among Ad-Aware users over the change grew so
furious that Lavasoft has been forced to post a for WhenU. Michael Wood, a Lavasoft forum administrator, has
that the company is going to re-evaluate its entire threat-assessment scoring
For its part, PestPatrol restored seven variants of WhenU
software, including Save.exe, to its detection database on Feb. 17,
according to the company's . (This page may soon be updated, making the
listing for update 05021721 inaccessible, when the next Pest Patrol update comes
All this activity is enough to make your head spin. What's obvious
is that there's big money at stake now for companies who think it's fine to
install software on users' PCs to display ads. The anti-adware battles are only