Hounded by spyware charges, DirectRevenue shuts down

DirectRevenue, which was recently doing business as Best Offers, had been sued and fined for its spyware-installing business practices

Notorious adware maker DirectRevenue has closed shop.

The company, which was recently doing business as Best Offers, gave no reason for its sudden closure, which was announced on its Web site. "Best Offers and Direct Revenue have ceased operations. To service legacy consumers, we are maintaining this page of uninstall instructions, an uninstall software tool, and an e-mail based support service."

E-mail sent to the Gmail address listed on the company's Web site was returned as undeliverable.

DirectRevenue was founded in 2002, but it managed to make a lot of people unhappy during the course of its short life. Its software, which was often installed without user consent, would bombard victims with unwanted pop-up ads and was difficult to remove.

The company was fined $1.5 million by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in February and it was also sued by the New York attorney general. Critics called the FTC fine a slap on the wrist, however, as the company is thought to have made more than $20 million from its questionable business practices.

"This is a business that never should have existed," said Ben Edelman, a critic of the company who is an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School. "They never did anything useful for users and merely preyed on victims too trusting or hurried to protect themselves from DirectRevenue's attacks."

Company management had recently positioned Best Offers as a legitimate software company, and Edelman said that he did not know if they were planning on continuing in business under a different name.

"The people behind this company walked away with tens of millions of dollars," he said. "They've got the money. If they're smart, they'll take it and run."

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