Monday, March 14, 2005

Firefox and Stop Sign

Redemption in a blog reports on a troubling issue. He searched for an item in Google (I did the same by searching on "Firefox") and Google responded with a list of ads, one of which seemed to advertise Firefox for download. Only, it wasn't Firefox's site, but rather the site for an anti-spyware company called "Stop-sign". Further investigation on my part found several links on the web suggesting that Stop-sign was itself spyware and, at one time in their history, tended to use drive-by install methods (where the software installs itself on someone's PC without asking permission). This may or may not have cleared itself up as Stop-sign appears to have re-organized as a company and I did find some positive statements about them. However, I'm not certain that Firefox wants to be associated to them. Stop-sign does charge for their antivirus software and Firefox is free.

From Spyware Warrior's site about Stop-sign:

"eAcceleration's Stop-Sign anti-malware scanner was listed on this page primarily because of the company's history of employing deceptive advertising and drive-by-downloads (1, 2, 3, 4). The company was also known for removing and/or disabling competing apps. These objectionable business practices were employed primarily during the years 2002-2003.

Sometime during 2004 the company underwent reorganization. Not only have the worst of the company's download and installation practices been halted, but the company has completely overhauled its stub installer application, giving users much more control over the software modules to be installed on their systems (1, 2).

While testing indicates that the "threat scanner" is still slow and has occasional problems with false positives -- in large part because of the use of heuristics, which cannot be turned off by the user -- we can no longer classify this application as "rogue/suspect." Nonetheless, this anti-malware application -- at least in its current state -- cannot be recommended, given the many excellent competing anti-virus, anti-trojan, and anti-spyware applications that are available (some for free).


Chu Yeow said...

Just so it is clear, I didn't find the ad off a search on Google. I spotted it while looking through the documentation for the Web Developer Toolbar like I wrote in my blog post.

Looks like Stop-Sign has removed the ads at this time, though.

B.D. said...

My error. I stand corrected and apparently misread your post. However, I did a search for 'Firefox' in Google at the time and noted that the Stop-Sign ad appeared there as well. I thought that was troubling enough to post about it.