Friday, July 4, 2008

LinkScanner Identifies Itself As IE6

AVG's LinkScanner feature continues to be controversial. And The Register continues to field complaints about LinkScanner's affect on website statistics. LinkScanner donwloads websites found in search results looking for sites that try to download malware onto your computer. LinkScanner now identifies itself as Internet Explorer 6 to websites after webmasters began filtering it from their traffic logs. This makes it undistinguishable from normal web traffic and skews website traffic statistics which hurts website advertising revenue. The Register quotes Steve Jackson, co-chair of the International Web Analytics Association:

"In order to make an omelet you have to crack some eggs. But a good omelet has cheese, ham, peppers, mushrooms and all sorts of other ingredients which AVG seem to have forgotten about."

While the controversy over the LinkScanner's bandwidth hogging and traffic skewing is a serious problem, the problem of websites that install malware on your computer is very real. Tools like LinkScanner would seem to be necessary to protect less sophisticated users of vulnerable operating systems (like Windows, there I've said it) from having their computers attacked by websites which knowingly or not are hosting malware which exploits unprotected computers.

1 comment:

pat_bitton said...

Following is AVG's official response to LinkScanner concerns:

We’d like to thank our web community for bringing these challenges to our attention, as building community trust and protecting all of our users is critical to us. We have modified the Search-Shield component of LinkScanner to only notify users of malicious sites; this modified version will be rolled out on July 9th 2008. As of this date. Search-Shield will no longer scan each search result online for new exploits, which was causing the spikes that webmasters addressed with us. However, it is important to note that AVG still offers full protection against potential exploits through the Active Surf-Shield component of our product, which checks every page for malicious content as it is visited but before it is opened.