TUCOWS ARTICLE

How Tucows Fights Spyware

Tucows stands firm in its commitment to bring you software that is safe. We test every title to make sure it runs on a variety of systems. We check every program for viruses before placing it online. We run a virus scan on every single file in our system weekly as an added level of protection.
Published: Jul 21, 2005
Author: Michael E, Callahan
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Tucows stands firm in its commitment to bring you software that is safe. We test every title to make sure it runs on a variety of systems. We check every program for viruses before placing it online. We run a virus scan on every single file in our system weekly as an added level of protection. Therefore, it only makes sense that Tucows also tests every file to ensure that there is no spyware or adware contained in the program.

Tucows has done this for close to six years when we first discovered the concept of �intrusive adware,� or what is now known as spyware. At that time there were no anti-spyware programs to run checks for us. We paid attention to the actual files as they installed to see if any seemed out of place. We ran the programs and checked to see if any odd or unexpected behavior occurred. The result was no doubt not perfect, but we caught many programs and prevented them from being on-site. That is why you have never seen ultra-popular programs like Kazaa on our site. Despite their popularity on other download sites, we have refused to host programs with intrusive adware. The loss of revenue from not placing potentially unsafe software on Tucows was worth what we earned in its place: trust from you, our customers.

We continued and expanded this policy a few years ago when we also stopped allowing all third-party advertisers -- programs that allow other, outside companies to place advertising elements within their software. Usually these programs track your computer usage and then tailor pop-up ads to match your behavior. We do not allow such programs on our site and have not for several years. We are vigilant in making sure that they do not get on our site. If some slip by, we quickly remove them as soon as they are discovered. If you, our customers, report anything suspicious, we immediately investigate and take appropriate action. We also now use anti-spyware programs like Spyware Doctor, Webroot Spy Sweeper,Ad-aware, Microsoft Anti-Spyware and Spybot: Search and Destroy to ensure that no program contains spyware. We also still use our original method of checking installed files and looking for odd or unexpected behavior.

Another type of protection we do here at Tucows is to make sure that the anti-spyware programs on our site are legitimate. Several programs out there use misleading and coercive tactics to goad you into buying their software. They will give you false positives, claiming that spyware is present when none is on your machine and requiring you to purchase their software to get rid of this non-existent spyware. Even worse, some anti-spyware products actually have spyware included! To prevent such programs from appearing on Tucows, we recently began using Eric Howes� Rouge/Suspect Anti-Spyware Products and Web Sites list. This site lists more than 100 programs that use these terrible methods to scare you into buying their products. We will not list any program on his Rouge/Suspect list.The reason we do all of this is to ensure that you have a good downloading experience. We want you to know that you have a safe place to download in the wilderness of the Internet. Tucows is that place. We will never knowingly place malicious software on our site. We will never knowingly put up software with pop-up ads or usage tracking.

To make certain that we are clear, not all advertising in software is bad. Some programs, like Opera Web Browser, use banner advertising in their software as an exchange to make their programs free to you. This is acceptable to us because this advertising does not track your usage or send any data to Opera. It just sends you non-targeted banner advertising so that you have the option to use the program free of charge. Banner-ad supported software is always welcome on Tucows.

We have always been committed to your safety here at Tucows. Right now, spyware is a hot topic in technology news. Several service providers are now making commitments to stop carrying spyware. We commend them for joining us in this effort to fight spyware and adware, a battle that we have been fighting for a long time. This is not just a fad to us: we have been committed for several years, and we vow to never let our guard down and to do everything we can to keep you safe.

Thank you for using Tucows now and in the future,

Matthew Bleicher
Manager, Project Services
Tucows.com


About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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