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April 14, 2005

The “who cares?” answer to the spyware question

As the anti-spyware industry moves from the consumer to the enterprise market, at least one vendor thinks the tricky question of defining spyware becomes moot. "Who cares?" said Chris King, product marketing manager at Blue Coat Systems.

By CBR Staff Writer

There’s a raging debate about what constitutes spyware, King said. To be cute about it, my take and our take on it is – ‘Who cares?’. It’s up to the owner of the desktop to say what gets installed.

Makers of software that are often detected as spyware have been applying legal pressure to anti-spyware software makers, trying to force them to remove their gray-area applications from their databases.

The debate is causing the term used to describe this kind of program to change too, depending on who you talk to. People refer to spyware, adware, potentially unwanted programs, PUPs, scumware, grayware, malware.

While acknowledging that the debate may have relevance in the consumer space, King said: When it comes to the enterprise, they own the desktops, why shouldn’t they decide what gets put on them?

An organization should be able to audit their desktops, and know what software is running on them, King said. They should be able to say ‘Is it good or bad? I don’t know, but it’s chewing up too many cycles to it’s going away.’

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