Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Cloning Ben Edelman

I first had the pleasure of meeting Ben Edelman in Washington DC at the 2004 FTC Spyware Workshop. I was immediately impressed with his knowledge and passion.  Ben has a long history of shining a light on unscrupulous activities of adware(spyware) companies.  He has followed the money back to many legitimate companies and helped pull the plug on some dangerous trends in software distribution.

Ben Edelman and PC Pitstop's Dave Methvin
Ben Edelman and PC Pitstops Dave Methvin
Feb 2006 ASC Conference

Recently, Ben has come under personal attack after demonstrating how Adware company Zango is thumbing their noses at the FTC and a previous settlement where Zango had their hand slapped. Last month he showed us how eTrust side steps its own responsibility to monitor vendors it has certified.

What I don’t understand is where are the other Ben Edelman’s of the world? Why aren’t the big security companies exposing the sources of so many unwanted installations?  Why doesn’t the FTC use their fines to set up a shop to monitor future sources of adware infiltration?

While writing this story, I did see that the European Union and some corporate sponsors have set aside over 5 million Euro towards malware research. A three year study starting in January will be called “WOMBAT”( Worldwide Observatory of Malicious Behavior and Attack Tools). The focus of this group will be consolidate the research of global attacks in hopes of predicting future attacks and/or cyberterrorism.

I doubt this group will monitor the attacks of seemingly legitimate adware companies. These companies collect vast sums of venture capital and use it to encourage affiliates to sneak their software on our machines. For now, we may have to depend on a single Ben Edelman to be our watch dog.



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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo to Ben Edelman for his efforts in fighting spyware against all odds.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, we don't have to rely just on Ben Edelman, we have you and Scotty to help protect us. Thanks for the good work.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Gershon Yehuda Ben Kalman said...

Whatever. Why does Ben need to get paid to testify in court cases? Oh, and spare me the Zango = malware crap. People that think seeing an ad is malware don't know what malware means. Go get some worms, trojans, and keyloggers and you'll have some real malware. Seeing an ad? Sheesh. What a hero Ben must be if he saves one poor soul from seeing a freaking ad.

I went to Harvard for 9 years and all I got was this lousy t-shirt and a check for testifying against an internet advertiser.

1:35 AM  
Blogger paperghost said...

The problem with Zango isn't so much their applications popping adverts. The problem traditionally has been the danger posed by the people they bundle with.

Unless you think a browser redirecting you to child porn (to use the most extreme example I can think of) with one click of a "go" button is nothing to worry about, then Zango do indeed need to be monitored until we can be confident their days of partnering with idiots have ceased.

Oh, as for "worms, trojans and keyloggers", you'll find Zango have managed to partner with plenty of people distributing those kinds of wares, too. Go here and scroll down to the section numbered 3 for every kind of scam you can think of.

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All we have is Ben? What about this Boyd guy? I hear he is pretty good too. he sure gets his fair share of publicity, but I think he works hard at that.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I would agree. It would be great to clone Chris Boyd as well.

Ben and Chris both put themselves in serious danger in their efforts to make our world a safer place.

Ben is probably best known for exposing the so-called legitimate, well funded companies who use dispicable tactics to trick users into installing their applications on users.

While Chris has no love to these companies he's known for infiltrating the international bad guys who manage create botfarms and they openly brag about doing bad stuff.

Yup, would love to see him cloned as well.

I may be generalizing their roles but that's how I see their focus being a little different. In both cases, they keeping some folks from stealing millions and my respect can't be measured.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben is doing meaningful work and making a difference by exposing sleazy business practices. WTG Mr.E!

1:23 AM  

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