Google, Live, Yahoo run dubious scanner ads

Scott dunn By Scott Dunn

You’ve heard of “adware” and “spyware” and the antispyware products that are designed to eliminate them.

A third category of software — “rogue antispyware” — promotes itself deceptively and yet is allowed to advertise on such major search engines as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft’s Live.com.


Spyware Warrior publishes ‘rogue’ software list

For years, a Web site known as Spyware Warrior has been at the forefront of exposing fraudulent and misleading antispyware products. Its page of so-called Rogue/Suspect Anti-Spyware Products names scores of products that exhibit suspicious behaviors.

Many of these curious downloads, according to Spyware Warrior, install the very problems they claim to cure, generate false positives to trick users into buying a “remedy,” and use aggressive or misleading advertising.

Sadly, you can find ads for many of these suspect antispyware products on popular search engines. Typically, these ads appear as “sponsored links,” “sponsored sites,” or “sponsor results” on Google, Yahoo, and Windows Live (the search engine behind Microsoft’s MSN.com). The ads are paid for by the software companies and appear whenever a keyword in a search matches one that the advertiser has bid on.

Search ads promote false-positive scans

Table 1, below, shows some of the products on Spyware Warrior’s “rogue” list that advertise on Google, Live.com, and Yahoo as of this writing.

According to Spyware Warrior, each of the products in Table 1 scans consumers’ PCs for spyware but then presents “false positives,” reporting problems even when there are none. The purpose is to convince you to buy the advertiser’s product to “solve” the situation the scan found.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-08-09: