I recently got a job as one of the technical support people at university. Basically, people call or walk in (often with their laptops in tow), and we give them computer assistance. It seems that every single one of them, to a greater or lesser extent, is completely infested with malware. By now, we even have our more infamous individual pieces such as WebRebates or Bargain Buddy (I’m beginning to wonder if I would be wrong in sending the entire campus an e-mail, imploring them to never ever download a piece of software with the word “Buddy” in its name). So far, our record is over 3,000 pieces of software on one machine! :eek:
Though most of it goes away when Spybot or Ad-Aware, some of it keeps bouncing back, deciding that we must really not have wanted to delete them. I especially love the search toolbars that beg and plead to spare their lives, as they really aren’t spyware just because they came onto your machine uninvited and started changing things. Or even worse, the spyware that shows advertisements for freaking spyware removal tools! I’m sure there isn’t any conflict of interest there. And to top it all off, it isn’t even justifiable on grounds that “they deserve it, because they installed KaZaA, Bearshare, and a bunch of other P2P programs.” The vast majority that I’ve seen so far doesn’t come bundled with other software, prefering instead to sneak in through darker methods, and avoid paying anyone a comission.
Moreso than the spyware, I pit the psychopathic authors of this junk. Never once have they remotely considered the possible ethical issues in a profession where the number one goal is preventing the user from getting rid of your software at all costs, and making sure it’s as easy to silently install as possible. I hope each one of them gets their own little special hell, eternally dedicated to removing every spyware program that they have ever written from an infinite number of computers, where whenever one of them spawns a pop-up, they’re dipped in the boiling lava, all while hearing Bonzi Buddy, 24 hours a day, in a loud, screeching voice, inform them of all the special offers that they are missing.
We’ve almost given up our policy of not trying to criticize their software choices, and instead just installing Mozilla on whomever walks in with a spyware problem. My god, this junk is worse than viruses. At least those authors don’t have the audacity to think they’re merely honest buisnessmen. Moreover, viruses don’t have this tendency to invite all their friends to a new computer they just infected. In fact, other than that, the two genres of software are remarkably similar.