Problem: Over past few months, I have had to clean up a quite a bit of malware on client PC’s and Macs. Items like: Search Protect, PC Optimizer, MacKeeper, zip cloud, System Optimizer Pro, driver support, Boost, Groovorio, Browser Safeguard, snipsmart, RocketTab, toolbars and numerous coupon/savings programs… Just to name a few and there are so much more.
How does this get installed?
A user does a search for “Flash Player” or “Java Download” and on the top of the search results are ads that give the illusion of it being the number one result. So the user clicks on the link and downloads what they think is a legitimate copy of Java, Flash, etc… This installation file is packed with many versions of the programs mentioned above so the end result is that instead of one program, the user gets 4, 5 or 6 programs that are all taking system resources. Some make your browsing and ability to do work completely impossible. Many of my clients ask if this is legal and I’m not a lawyer but since there or poorly placed opt outs, I’m willing to bet it’s legal but it’s definitely not ethical.
Solution: My plea to Bing and Google is to not allow this deception within their web results and not have an ad so close to the top result. I know it’s a paid ad and that it’s technically not a search result but the placement of these ads creates the deception and these search engines could do more to protect their clients. I guess it’s not even the placement of the ad but what the ad links to. Ads are supposed to guide you to a program or service that could benefit you and these links do not serve anyone except the unethical groups who buy these ad spots. Google’s famous motto of “Don’t be Evil” doesn’t resonate with me anymore because these ads facilitate said evil.
I’m sure Google and Bing rationalizes these deceptive practices by saying that the user should be more careful or the ad is properly marked but we all know that is a cop out. They could do more!