*ware…Enough with the stupid names already!

This is something that has been bothering me for a long time. And finally, tonight, for lack of something better to do at 2am on a Saturday night, I decide to quantify my reasons for hating this phenomenon.

The current trend is to identify any sort of malicious software with a *ware description. Initially this was just referring to the basics:

  • Malware – malicious software intended to harm your system like viruses or worms
  • Spyware – Tracking software that was sending back usage statistics
  • Adware – Pop up annoying advertising software

Everyone has heard of the top three listed above. These phrases were arguably coined to scare ignorant consumers into heading over to Circuit City to buy useless scanning software and perhaps a $75 install. It allowed them to attribute the decreasing performance of home systems to something that wasn’t their fault, when in reality, a regular defrag and just being smart about the crap software they were installing on there would have done the trick.

But I digress, I’m straying off topic. The thing that really annoys me now is how far this naming trend has gone. I work in the antivirus software industry, and these threats are a constant topic. But it has been blown WAY out of proportion. A quick search on Google brought up a ton of terms I didn’t even know existed yet:

  • Crimeware – Software to export information from a network for exploitation purposes.
  • Jokeware – Joke programs that don’t necessarily harm a system.
  • Junkware – Preinstalled crap software on a new PC.
  • Rootware – Rootkit related software
  • Give me a break! Couldn’t most of these be described as a form of Malware? Crime/Junk/Root – all of those are programs with malicious intent, why be so specific about it. Well, you won’t see me buying into all of this. Anyone agree?

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