The Seedy Side of Software

I’m getting older. Booth babes, apparently, are not.

For the most part, MacWorld Expo was family friendly; there were only a few booths where flesh was more present than product. The most egregious of these was run by ZeoBit, the makers of MacKeeper. 1

MacKeeper has always struck me as seedy. It’s billed as a bundle of essential privacy and security tools; I’m skeptical of its merits. Much of the bundle seems to duplicate standard OS X features: why do you need Internet Security when Safari already has anti-phishing, or Backup when Lion already has Time Machine? ZeoBit would have you believe that, sold separately, their apps are worth over a thousand dollars. Thankfully, you can have it all at the low, low price of $38.95.

ZeoBit engages in scummy marketing tactics, many of which were pioneered by malware authors. They purchase dubious ad space on low-rent web property — the kind of property a naïve surfer might be unlucky enough to visit. They work hard to break pop-up blockers. They try to make their ads look like content or native security warnings. At expos, they apparently use a different kind of pop-up to draw attention.

I had the pleasure of meeting several above-board security and privacy companies at MacWorld. Guys like SecureMac are out there fighting the good fight. With Cloak, we’ve tried to raise the bar on several fronts. We’ve tried to make it easy and elegant to stay safe. Moreover, we’ve tried to be as open and transparent about what we do as possible. But MacKeeper? I don’t think I trust them. Not one bit.

[1] I feel dirty mentioning this product by name; I won’t honor it with a link. If there were a hypertext equivalent of “unasking the question,” I’d unlink the link in a hurry.