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Home : Articles : Scumware

Scumware

This month, my featured article is on an issue which is causing outcry among the webmaster community, namely Scumware. Scumware, in case you haven't yet heard of it is a webmaster's worst nightmare! Imagine a program which could place links on your site which you didn't want there. Links to your competitors, links to pornography and changes to your advertisements so that they don't earn you any money. Just last year, people would have dismissed this as impossible but today this is a real problem.

So how does this scumware affect your site like this? Basically, scumware is software on your computer. Sometimes you get it with software you download, other times you may download the software for something else and it will also change websites you view. The scumware is a browser add-on which allows it to recognise words in web pages, then underline them so that when they are clicked a menu pops up asking if the user wants to go to an advertiser's site. Some current scumware includes Gator, Surf+ and TopText. You may not have downloaded any of these but if you have programs such as KaZaa, you may have inadvertantly downloaded one of these with it.

So what does this mean to webmasters? Basically, all your hard work has gone to waste. All the time and money you have spent getting people to your site is useless when, as soon as they arrive, TopText or Surf+ turns your website into a link to a competitor! Even worse, in my opinion, is Gator, it doesn't make links in text in your website, it actually finds the banner adverts on your site and replaces them with its own. For thousands of webmasters across the globe, this will remove their only tiny revenue stream.

It is not only the links to competitors and removal of advertising which makes these programs so terrible. One of the main things that Surf+ does is place links to pornography on sites, and this includes supposedly child friendly sites like Disney's site. Although these programs don't actually change the website, any user with scumware installed will see these links. Another major concern over these programs is the copyright issue. They are, without your permission, making changes to your website which is an obvious copyright violation.

As you can see, both internet users and website owners should be very concerned about scumware, so what can you do? I have 2 suggestions. Firstly, visit scumware.com. This excellent website has details on how to check if you have any scumware installed, gives all the latest scumware details, has code which you can place on your website to stop scumware and has links to conversations about it on forums around the web. Secondly, tell everyone you can about scumware: post messages about it, contact offline media, tell all your friends. If the online community turns against scumware then it will be stopped.



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