Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Malwarebytes

In2an3_PpG

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Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes' Right to Flag 'Potentially Unwanted Applications' Upheld



A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against security vendor Malwarebytes, which was accused of illegally classifying two security applications developed by the plaintiff - another software developer - as being harmful.

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Enigma Software, which has offices in Clearwater, Florida, as well as in Lithuania and Bulgaria, filed the lawsuit in October 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila dismissed the lawsuit.


Enigma Software's complaint against Malwarebytes.
Enigma Software accused Malwarebytes of illegally classifying two of its applications as "potentially unwanted programs" or PUPs for short: an anti-malware program called SpyHunter and a program designed to clean hard drives and Windows registries called RegHunter.

Enigma contended that Malwarebytes intended to interfere with its customer base and retaliate against the company "for a separate lawsuit Enigma filed against a Malwarebytes affiliate."

That separate lawsuit involved the online technology forum Bleeping Computer. Enigma sued Bleeping Computer in 2016 after it posted a negative review of SpyHunter. The lawsuit was settled earlier this year and Bleeping Computer excised the review from its site.

In the wake of Judge Davila's decision, Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski says in a blog post that while the decision might sound mundane, "the reality is that this is not only a critical win for Malwarebytes, but for all security providers who will continue to have legal protection to do what is right for their users."

Kleczynski adds: "As PUPs became more prevalent and problematic, we began offering protection against them too, a choice that is now backed by the U.S. District Court."


Enigma Software sued Malwarebytes for flagging two of its software applications as potentially unwanted software. (Source: Enigma Software's complaint)
Enigma Software didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. But the company announced Thursday that it plans to appeal the decision in the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Contentious Classifications
The lawsuit is a reminder that more than a decade ago, anti-virus companies began flagging some applications as PUPs. Such applications often exhibit behaviors that information security companies judge to be risky or annoying, such as injecting ads, installing root digital certificates or surreptitiously bundling apps into their installers without notifying users or by hiding that notification in lengthy, impenetrable end-user license agreements.

In February 2016, Malwarebytes called out some of the behaviors that trigger such a classification.

"PUP criteria includes advertising no-nos such as obtrusive pop-ups, web infractions such as altered search results or bookmark insertions, or download offenses, such as prepopulated check boxes or the liberal use of 'recommended' next to an option," the company said.

In response to the lawsuit filed by Enigma, meanwhile, Malwarebytes contended that it has a right to flag Engima's applications as PUPs under the immunity provision of the Communications Decency Act.

In the dismissal order, Judge Davila agrees, saying that the act absolves a service provider of liability for good-faith decisions to restrict access to material that it deems to be "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected."

A key case cited by Malwarebytes involved a dispute between anti-virus vendor Kaspersky Lab and Zango, a now-defunct advertising software application. The software displayed advertisements to users in exchange for free video clips, email emoticons and other freebies.

But Zango was criticized by security experts who alleged that its rogue affiliates used questionable distribution methods and software exploits to forcibly install the application on computers. In November 2006, Zango reached a $3 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which, among other contentions, alleged that the software was deceptive and difficult to remove.

After Kaspersky Lab put Zango in the PUP category, however, Zango took the anti-virus firm to court. In June 2009, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Kaspersky's favor, finding the company's actions were protected by the immunity provision of the Communications Decency Act.

Looking for Customers
Enigma Software may have lost this round of its case against Malwarebytes. But it's still hoping customers will install its SpyHunter program and stick with it, even if Malwarebytes flags the application.

One of the Enigma Software's web pages for SpyHunter offers an installer that disables Malwarebytes, allowing SpyHunter to function on a computer. And it blames Malwarebytes for the situation, alleging it "initiated this course of action."


Enigma Software's instructions for disabling Malwarebytes.
The Enigma Software notice states: "We are very sorry for the inconvenience, but this is outside of our control."
 
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Deleted member 65228

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I don't like Enigma.

It is evident that they should be classified as a PUP ("Potentially Unwanted Program") or PUA ("Potentially Unwanted Application") IMO. People searching for malware removal guides don't want to have a product shoved down their throats. Blogs like the MalwareTips one managed by the owner of the forum do it in a more user-friendly way and ethically, but there are many pages under various domains trying to push Enigma SpyHunter. Personally, I consider them as spam.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against security vendor Malwarebytes, which was accused of illegally classifying two security applications developed by the plaintiff - another software developer - as being harmful.
They lost the case before it even started if they used the argument that Malwarebytes were trying to claim their software was "harmful". They never did this. They classified it as a PUP, which means Malwarebytes found it to be unwanted in their personal verdict, as opposed to malicious. Therefore, factually speaking, Malwarebytes would not have been doing something they were accused of doing if that really was the court case argument.

I believe they are an unethical company. By disabling Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, they are leaving people with reduced protection (potentially). It is childish and immature, they should grow up. After all, they are "trying" to be a security vendor... Best act like one if you want to be successful.

They have an OK HIPS and their SpyHunter may be OK. They should use their employees to their potential instead of focusing on crap like this. Why bother fighting? If you get added as a PUP, look at the reasons WHY. CONSIDER WHY. Make an action plan to change so you don't have to be classified as unwanted.

The aim is to make good software, be respected (also by providing respect) and care for your customers. Actually want to make a difference. If you play the cards right, you won't have situations like this where you even think about filing a lawsuit, because you won't be classified as unwanted.
 
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plat1098

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#3
Some like me are hoping this dismissal helps pave the way for another dismissal: namely, the lawsuit filed by Enigma against Bleeping Computer for a supposedly negative comment made by one of the forum experts. You talk about outrage after that one. Fingers crossed here.

I agree: wasting resources on (frivolous) legal actions instead of pouring them into its software development. Plus, the public backlash surely doesn't help.
 

conceptualclarity

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It's true that there are pages all over the Internet that purport to have a solution to your computer problem when all they have is a download of a SpyHunter demo.

I certainly do believe security programs flag competitors for competition motives. And I'm going to differ with some folks here by saying I believe a huge amount of "PUP" detection is pure BS. In addition to malign competitive motives, I believe much of the motive is to fool uninformed users into thinking "Gosh, this program must be really valuable. Look at all the stuff it's catching!" when it's not actually catching anything harmful.

I have obscure programs that are quite useful to me that get flagged over and over as "PUPs". Some of them, it's true, did require me to jump through a number of hoops bypassing unwanted programs before I got the wanted program. But to me, that's worth getting a good program for free.

The practical ramification of PUPs detection BS is significant: It causes me and probably many others to run many fewer scans than we would otherwise because we have to think: "I have a lot of things on my plate now. Do I have time to deal with a boatload of detections that are probably all harmless?" It's particularly bad because some PUP detections give only registry keys that show only numbers, giving no clue as to what program or extension is in view. (If anybody knows a way of dealing with that, please tell me. I wish there was a Virus Total for registry keys.)

And, yes, I have found that Malwarebytes serves up false positives in pretty liberal quantities.

Educate people to always choose "Custom" option on installations, and encourage them to use UnChecky if they're really not up to decision-making on these things.

But let's have a lot fewer false positives, please.
 
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Deleted member 65228

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#7
Do I have time to deal with a boatload of detections that are probably all harmless?" It's particularly bad because some PUP detections give only registry keys that show only numbers, giving no clue as to what program or extension is in view. (If anybody knows a way of dealing with that, please tell me. I wish there was a Virus Total for registry keys.)
Emsisoft and ESET allow you to toggle between enabling/disabling PUP detection, probably many other vendors will have the option as well.
 

_CyberGhosT_

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They must have some deep pockets over there at Enigma, how many they gonna file and loose ?
Enigma ---> In "My" Honest Opinion <--- and not the opinion of MalwareTips, is pure garbage, as well
as their business practices. I hope they keep going eventually the courts will label them as "Frivilous"
filers and it will be hard for them to get into a US court.
People talk bad about their Software, block it, and they still cant see its garbage to many in the industry.
So the evidence here says they have tons more money than brains ? :p lol
 
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#13
Instead of taking everyone to court they should improve their software and get rid of crap they install in their software.
+1 to this ^^^

Why waste resources to fight a losing battle? Clean up the act and behave like a reputable business if you have an actual product that works. Figure out what is "potentially unwanted" and correct it! Doh!!!
 
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#15
I would think using the term "potentially unwanted" leaves you on much safer legal ground than flagging something as malicious, or fraudulent. It's much easier to say people don't want this sh*t!!!.
 
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