Lavasoft: A Profile of "the Original Anti-Spyware Company"
When Sweden-based Lavasoft was founded in 1999 by Nicolas Stark, the term "spyware" was new. But strange things were happening to computers - and not just pop-ups.
The word spyware was used for the first time publicly on October 16, 1995. It popped up on Usenet, a distributed Internet discussion system, in an article aimed at Microsoft's business model.
In the years that followed though, spyware often referred to "snoop equipment" such as tiny, hidden cameras. It reappeared in a news release for a personal firewall product in early 2000, marking the beginning of the modern usage of the word.
In 1999, Steve Gibson of Gibson Research detected advertising software on his computer and suspected it was actually stealing his confidential information. The so-called adware had been covertly installed and was difficult to remove, so he decided to counterattack and developed the first ever anti-spyware program, OptOut.
That's where Lavasoft picked up and Gibson left off. He went on to other projects and Lavasoft became a pioneer in the anti-spyware industry with its signature free, downloadable product Ad-Aware. Lavasoft's paid products soon followed and it is now the leading anti-spyware provider with over 250 million downloads worldwide.
Still, a study conducted in 2005 by AOL and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) found that 81 percent of home computer users lacked basic "core protection" such as updated anti-virus, firewalls and the like. Thirty-eight percent of them had no anti-spyware protection.
"The history of spyware is an unfinished one with no end in sight, which is why we must be constantly vigilant and get the word out to all users - anti-spyware protection is necessary," says Michael Helander, Director of Communications at Lavasoft.
Today, Lavasoft's signature product is still free, but has expanded to include three paid versions of Ad-Aware, providing advanced protection to individuals and businesses alike. The company itself has grown too, now with 4,000 partners in 120 countries.
How does Lavasoft stay wily enough to outsmart malware? Our in-house team of expert security analysts find and analyze spyware, assessing each piece of malware with a Threat Analysis Index (TAI) according to its behavior.
The secret also lies in working with the "enemy" in order to create positive change in the industry, and in our relationship with our international network of users.
It has been a core value of Lavasoft from the very beginning to not only "detect and destroy" malware, but to go to the root of the cause, the makers, and engage them in dialogue that may result in changes in their way of developing. With a dedication to creating positive industry change by working directly with adware and spyware vendors to make acceptable improvements to their processes, we aim for establishing long-term benefits for computer users, and not just providing a band-aid fix.
Lavasoft continues to develop for safety, thoroughness, trust and usability, with both everyday computer users and savvy IT admin in mind. Our security analysts ensure that current threats are accurately assessed, helped in part by direct submissions from our international network of spyware fighting volunteers, who submit anywhere from 100 to 200 samples a day to be analyzed.
The Lavasoft Support Forums are another avenue that maintains Lavasoft's commitment to the online security of individual computer users. Over 21,000 registered members have made a total of 41,625 posts to help computer users around the world clean up their infected computers since the forums opened in April 2006.
What is in store for the future? The spyware and malware industry shows no immediate signs of slowing down. But Lavasoft's commitment to ensuring a safe computing environment guarantees that you will have the necessary tools for protecting your privacy and security. Be assured, Lavasoft will be ready.
By the end of 2008, there will be more than one billion personal computers in use worldwide. Forrester Research Inc. predicts that the number of PCs in use will more than double by 2015. It took 27 years to reach the billion-PC mark, but it will take only five years to reach the next billion, due to advanced technology, lower prices, and emerging technology-aware populations.
Source: Forrester's "Worldwide PC Adoption Forecast to 2015"
Term of the Month
An End User License Agreement, or EULA, is a software license agreement that indicates the terms for an end user to utilize certain software. That fine-print legal jargon that makes you want to check the box next to, "Yes, I have read and accept these terms," without fully reading the text, is an official agreement between you and a software vendor.
It is important to read all EULAs and privacy statements carefully before installing new software. If the EULA is hard to find or difficult to understand, reconsider installing the software. You should never install software without knowing exactly what it is. By not fully reading the EULA, you may agree to questionable activities by the software vendor, and even to installing spyware and adware on your computer. The Zlob/Smitfraud Trojan (fake codecs most notably) actually DOES include proper disclosure of what will be downloaded to your PC. Take the time to read EULAs carefully!
WiredSafety.org is the world's largest online safety, education and help group. Adults can visit the site for information on safely navigating the World Wide Web, and there are also specialty directories designed for kids. While it originally formed to help and protect Internet users of all ages, Wiredsafety.org's work has become increasingly dedicated to children, tweens, and teens.