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Sleazy antispyware marketing

We see it all. “Review sites” that list the “top-performing” antispyware apps, but are funded entirely through sales commissions (also called affiliate commissions). You want to be #1? Pay a higher commission.

Or, the increasingly common scan-and-scare tactics — scan your machine, come up with a bunch of cookies or false positives (and sometimes, even actual spyware), and then demand payment to fix it. (Even though the payoffs are absolutely staggering with this type of marketing, we’ve refused to do it and always offer a full 2 week trial, which allows you to remove anything you want without making you pay a dime.)

And then there’s the outright fakes, which load fake spyware on your machine and then demand payment to remove it.

And so on.

But now, there’s a fellow who calls himself the AntispywareGod. He has a long rambling blog post about how well SpyZooka performs for him (SpyZooka used to be on the Rogue Antispyware list but was delisted back in 2005). Of course, you are directed toward a link that pays him an affiliate commission if you buy the program.

That’s fine, no problems there, and he has every right to make money off his “opinion”.

But it’s how he gets people to the site that will have a lot of antispyware companies atwitter. He’s using Google Adwords with the misleading title of (antispyware product name) exposed.

For example, do a Google search for SpySweeper, an entirely reputable antispyware product. You get this adword:

http://www.sunbelt-software.com/ihs/alex/spysweeperaffiliate0001_small.jpg

Or SuperAntispyware:

http://www.sunbelt-software.com/ihs/alex/superantispywareaffiliate_small.jpg

Or CounterSpy:

http://www.sunbelt-software.com/ihs/alex/counterspyaffiliate0001233_small.jpg

Whatever.

Alex is a technology CEO, with leadership, operating partner, investor, and board member roles at security firms including AutoLoop, Borland, Quarterdeck (now Symantec and Cisco WebEx), GFI/TeamViewer, Sunbelt Software (now ThreatTrack Security), BlueStripe Software, StopBadware, Knowbe4, Malwarebytes, and Runaware Holding AB. When CEO of Sunbelt he ran a security blog, and he still writes on security.