Zango gets Zapped

You can surf the net with a little more ease this morning, knowing that an important legal benchmark has been set in dealing with those who sneakily install malware, spyware and adware onto your computer.

Zango, Inc., one of the world's largest distributors of adware, settled charges by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that the company violated federal law by using unfair and deceptive methods to download adware and obstruct consumers from removing it.

As part of the settlements terms, future downloads of Zango's adware without consumers' consent are banned. Zango is also required to provide a way for consumers to remove the adware and must give up $3 million in ill-gotten gains.

Zango, which you may also know as 180solutions, Inc., has a long history and an ugly reputation in the malware industry. Computer users around the world have been plagued with Zango software, making this a clear victory for the "good guys" in the battle against spyware.

It used outside distributors to bundle its tracking software and adware with games and screen savers, and also exploited vulnerabilities in programs like Microsoft to sneak its way into PCs. It has been installed on U.S. consumers' computers over 70 million times and has caused more than 6.9 billion pop-up ads, the FTC said.

At Lavasoft, we know all too well about Zango's tricks from our efforts to help you identify it on your computer. Nearly anything it has touched ended up in detection, often with an "automatic high" classification in the Threat Analysis Index.

Not only does Zangos settlement mark a win for all of us "good guys," it also sets an important standard for other companies that are attempting to install their software on computers. Perhaps we're seeing the beginning of the end for hidden terms in software end user licensing agreements.

You can read the full FTC press release by clicking here.