180solutions Drops Zone Labs Lawsuit

Adware provider 180solutions has voluntarily dropped a lawsuit it filed in November against security software vendor Zone Labs after claiming the company was making "false and misleading statements" about its products.

180solutions did not offer a reason for dismissing the suit; however, the company came under immense public fire after its actions were picked up by the press. Zone Labs' ZoneAlarm tool alerts users to the existence of 180's Zango software, and says it may log keystrokes and track Web sites visited.

180 claimed these accusations were false, alleging that ZoneAlarm caused "thousands of 180's customers to remove or otherwise uninstall Zango and/or 180SA," adding that, "180 has been damaged by the wrongful removal of its applications caused by ZoneLab's tortious conduct."

Although 180's Search Assistant and Zango tools may not be solely designed to spy on unsuspecting users, they do track what Web sites are being visited and deliver advertisements based on that data. 180 maintains that ads are delivered anonymously using a unique identification number.

But do users really want an application monitoring them in the background? Zone Labs and other anti-spyware vendors don't think so, and recommend removal of the software. Zone Labs said it did not make any changes to its software due to the lawsuit.

"From the inception of the suit, we believed it had no merit," said John Slavitt, general counsel for Zone Labs parent Check Point. "ZoneAlarm alerts are triggered by the behavior of a program, not its name. If the 180Solutions software exhibits suspicious behavior, we alert our customers accordingly. We did not make any concessions or reach a settlement after the suit was filed."

Shortly after filing its lawsuit against Zone Labs, 180solutions promised to clean up its act by ending the distribution of 180search Assistant and releasing Seekmo Search Assistant instead, which it said includes technologies to help reduce the number of unauthorized installations.

But some security experts, such as Sunbelt Software president Alex Eckelberry, remained skeptical. "Let's not forget that a crapload of 180 installs occur on sites that push an install on you that you don't actually need," he said in December.

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