• United States



by Paul Kerstein

Industry Group Defines Spyware

Oct 28, 20052 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

A new coalition of technology companies and public interestorganizations has hit some early milestones in its effort to combatspyware. On Thursday, the Anti-Spyware Coalition published twodocuments that the group hopes will take the computer security industrya step closer toward agreeing on a set of best practices for stoppingthis type of annoying and invasive software.

Coalition members have published a definition of the term “spyware” andare now seeking public comment on a “risk modeling” document that goesinto technical detail about just what it is that separates spyware fromany other kind of software.

Though it has taken only three months to hit these milestones, gettingconsensus in this area has not always been easy. A similarorganization, called the Consortium of Anti-Spyware Technology Vendors,fell apart in February after 16 months of effort.

The Anti-Spyware Coalition’s work ultimately will help software vendorsbuild better products that defend against spyware in a more consistentfashion, said Vincent Weafer, senior director with Symantec Corp.’sSecurity Response team. “When we all started looking at the spywarespace . . . there was no common definition of what was spyware and whatwas adware,” he said. “It should start to align how companies behavewhen they look at various types of adware and spyware programs.”

Symantec has already begun applying the coalition’s definitions to its own products, Weafer said.

The coalition’s documents will also help educate users on the subjectof spyware, said David McGuire, a spokesman for the Center forDemocracy and Technology, another coalition member.

Public comment is now being solicited on the risk-modeling document,and public meetings have been scheduled for Washington, D.C., andOttawa, Canada, next year to further discuss the spyware problem,McGuire said. “One of the ultimate goals of the coalition is to come upwith industrywide best practices,” he said.

Other Anti-Spyware Coalition members include Microsoft Corp., ComputerAssociates International Inc., McAfee Inc., the National Center forVictims of Crime, and the Cyber Security Industry Alliance.

The Coalition’s documents can be found here:

By Robert McMillan – IDG News Service (San Francisco Bureau)