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180 Solutions from the Inside Out
April 2, 2006 11:09 PM   Subscribe

Thought-provoking interview with former employee of hated spyware-maker 180 Solutions.
via /.
posted by Afroblanco (21 comments total)

 
Reading that interview was wierd for me, because I don't typically think of spyware-makers as "real people."
posted by Afroblanco at 11:14 PM on April 2, 2006


You can get a legal job making spyware?
posted by fshgrl at 11:18 PM on April 2, 2006


Yeah, but would you want one?
posted by baphomet at 11:34 PM on April 2, 2006


A gold-medal winning skier might.
posted by tellurian at 12:21 AM on April 3, 2006


Keep your attacks to the company as a whole and it’s leadership and you’re opinion will be respected quite a bit more by everyone, even 180 employees.

Bullshit. If you make spyware you're as much of a criminal as a virus writer, in my opinion.
posted by delmoi at 12:54 AM on April 3, 2006


(or someone who releases viruses, rahter then just writes them)
posted by delmoi at 12:57 AM on April 3, 2006


Keep your attacks to the company as a whole and it’s leadership and you’re opinion will be respected quite a bit more by everyone, even 180 employees.

Why should we attack the company? It's only an organization, it has no will or mind of its own. The ones who deserve to be scorned here are the employees; they're the ones who made it what it is and are responsible for all of their despicable acts. They're the ones who deserve our derision.

Whole lot of them should be thrown in prison, if you ask me.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:49 AM on April 3, 2006


I don't want to be respected by spyware company employees.
posted by quarsan at 2:02 AM on April 3, 2006


No, delmoi, your much more of a criminal for writing/releasing spyware. A organized theft ring (spyware) is much more criminal than spray paint vandals (virus releasers).

Also, a spyware maker's employ know why he recieves a salary & the spread of the spyware, so he should be every bit as culpable as the company as a whole.

A virus author normally ought not to be fully culpable for the virus' actions, as he's usually just some stupid kid who doesn't understand the full effect, and unintended consequences ought to have lesser punishments.

A virus author who merely publishes a disabled version at a grey hat forum ought to be essentially immune from prosecution.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:02 AM on April 3, 2006


Whole lot of them should be thrown in prison, if you ask me.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:49 AM CST on April 3 [!]

I don't want to be respected by spyware company employees.
posted by quarsan at 4:02 AM CST on April 3 [!]


I agree completely.

Adware/malware/spyware are a SCOURGE upon the internet. I think alot of people who frequent places like MeFi or /. don't understand how incredibly frustrating this stuff is for novice computer users.

They get into a mess, get lots of popups, and one popup eventually says "Spyware? Click here!" and they click that, and a new torrent of stuff hits them. Then, the next day they see "Computer running slow? Click here to remove ads". Rinse, repeat.

The people that make adware/malware/spyware are about as reputable as the people that go door-to-door ripping off senior citizens with roofing or paving scams.

I still can't believe these places are legal.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:53 AM on April 3, 2006


There are a lot of things I could have done in my computer career to make money but chose not to, because I judged them to be immoral.

This provably harmful junk is legal and profitable, while software that would improve all of our lives are felonies under the DMCA and other moronic laws.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:37 AM on April 3, 2006


from the article:
Not all, or even most, of 180's installs are rogue, most are from people who just want to access the site and they don't care about some popup that's easily dismissed with a click on 'yes' or 'accept'.
I don't know about if "most" would be a fair characterization or not, but I do believe there are a LOT of users who wwill just click "yes" if something pops up. Often they don't understand what any of the programs really do, so if the computer tells them it needs something else, they're going to agree. We all run into these (moreso if you use IE, and more or less depending on the sites you're visiting). I think some of what differentiates the savvier users from the rest are that savvier users click "no" or close the window without clicking anything.
posted by raedyn at 9:53 AM on April 3, 2006


Yeah, I could never work at a place that made spyware. I think that it would be an incredibly depressing job. It would be difficult for me to go to work every day, knowing that my sole function was to produce software that made people miserable.

However, my guess is that most of the people who do it don't have a problem with it. They're probably like, "Well, if the lusers don't know enough to protect themselves, then fuck 'em!" I'm sure they make plenty of money, and were assholes even before they took the job.

I mean, people work for all kinds of evil companies. We just think of spyware as particularly evil because, as computer users, we have personal experience with it.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:57 AM on April 3, 2006


I wish some sort of editing had taken place on the subject's writing. It was like cave scrawls after a certain point.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:08 AM on April 3, 2006


I still can't believe these places are legal.

Who says they are?
posted by Nelson at 11:59 AM on April 3, 2006


Why should we attack the company? It's only an organization, it has no will or mind of its own. The ones who deserve to be scorned here are the employees; they're the ones who made it what it is and are responsible for all of their despicable acts. They're the ones who deserve our derision.

Whole lot of them should be thrown in prison, if you ask me.


I feel the same way about US soldiers in Iraq, but everyone wants to get in line to tell you that they support the troops but don't like the President and his administration.

Just because the folks at the top have the self-interested vision that got the repulsive acts started doesn't mean that the folks in the trenches aren't just as responsible for keeping the machine running. Don't let the human face fool you-- the guy who was interviewed is dead inside.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:32 PM on April 3, 2006


He knew what they working on, yes. But one doesn't always have a choice as to the job he accepts.

People will do terrible things if it means being thrown out onto the street or starving if they don't. Looking at this morally (as opposed to legally, which I'm not qualified to speak of here) If someone is held at gunpoint to drive a getaway car, don't we usually take that into consideration in passing our judgement? In cases like that, we blame the ones holding the gun... which, to trace the analogy back, would be our own lack of consideration for the unemployed and homeless.
posted by JHarris at 1:09 PM on April 3, 2006


JHarris: People will do terrible things if it means being thrown out onto the street or starving if they don't.

That is never accepted as an excuse for committing crimes in this country and should not be in this case either. I'm willing to bet that anyone qualified to make spyware could have done something else... phone tech support, low-level IT tech, or fast food. Hell, he could put on lipstick and peddle his ass; it'd be more respectable than making spyware.

Anyway, we don't have any evidence that it was any kind of privation that forced him into this. My guess is he was just greedy and unscrupulous and the job paid well.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:14 PM on April 3, 2006


Hell, he could put on lipstick and peddle his ass; it'd be more respectable than making spyware. - Mitrovarr

I don't know about "more respectable" but certainly more dangerous.
posted by raedyn at 2:41 PM on April 3, 2006


That is never accepted as an excuse for committing crimes in this country and should not be in this case either.

Well I didn't say it because I thought everyone would agree with me....

Is it or is it not? I submit that to a starving person, stealing from a grocery store looks a lot more tempting than to the well-fed.

I'm not excusing him. I'm saying that if we had a better system for supporting the poor and out of work, a good portion of the evil in our society would evaporate.

I'm willing to bet that anyone qualified to make spyware could have done something else... phone tech support, low-level IT tech, or fast food.

Or telemarketing?

Hell, he could put on lipstick and peddle his ass; it'd be more respectable than making spyware.

Many people would not decide that way.
posted by JHarris at 8:22 PM on April 3, 2006


JHarris: Is it or is it not? I submit that to a starving person, stealing from a grocery store looks a lot more tempting than to the well-fed.

I'm sure it does, but this is America and I sincerely doubt anyone here is forced to either steal or starve. If nothing else, dumpster diving is always an option, as well as panhandling, soup kitchens, etc.

Avoiding being homeless is much harder, but I still have little sympathy. An intelligent person both literate and computer literate with such marketable skills as typing and programming is unlikely to be forced into working spyware or being unemployed. I'm willing to bet that he didn't HAVE to take this job, he chose to, because it paid well and he just plain didn't give a damn if it hurt anyone.

I'm not excusing him. I'm saying that if we had a better system for supporting the poor and out of work, a good portion of the evil in our society would evaporate.


That's debatable. Desperation is the cause to a few crimes, but often those cases are not cases that better safety nets would save (far-gone drug addicts, mentally ill individuals unable to live on their own and unwilling to be institutionalized.) Also, I think plain old greed is a bigger factor. Look how many white-collar crimes are committed by people who are in no danger of starving or losing their home. A lot of people are just willing to screw over other people to better their situation, no matter how good it was before.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:11 PM on April 3, 2006


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