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StopBadware, an anti-malware effort started at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, has announced that it has begun operating as a standalone non-profit organization called StopBadware, Inc. Google, PayPal and Mozilla have provided initial funding for the launch.

Sunbelt Software is a StopBadware Data Provider.


StopBadware began four years ago today as a Berkman Center project intended to engage the Internet community in fighting what the organization refers to as badware—software such as viruses or spyware that disregard a user’s choice about how his or her computer or network connection will be used. The goal was and remains to build and share knowledge through the collective efforts of a community of web users.

StopBadware works with its network of organizations and individual volunteers to collect and analyze data, to build community momentum for fighting badware and ultimately to advocate for change.

Maxim Weinstein, StopBadware’s executive director said:

“If we want to put an end to badware—or even put a dent in it—we have to change the attitudes and behaviors of individuals, organizations, and governments. That’s no small task, but we know progress is possible by combining the creativity and passion of our community members with the hard facts derived from our Badware Website Clearinghouse.”

The decision to spin StopBadware off from the Berkman Center was made in recognition of the effort’s evolution from research project to mission-driven organization.

Urs Gasser, executive director of the Berkman Center said:

“StopBadware has grown in just a few years from the seed of an idea into an internationally recognized force in the fight against harmful software. We are proud that, by developing a unique mission and becoming independent, StopBadware now follows in the footsteps of previous ventures like Creative Commons and Global Voices that have their roots here at the Berkman Center. We’re grateful for the inspiration and guidance of the project’s leaders, professors Jonathan Zittrain and John Palfrey.”

Palfrey will serve on the new non-profit’s board of directors, along with Michael Barrett (of PayPal), Vint Cerf (Google), Esther Dyson, Mike Shaver (Mozilla), Ari Schwartz (Center for Democracy & Technology) and executive director Maxim Weinstein.

StopBadware has already had success in its goal of changing attitudes and behaviors. Its “badwarealerts,”  which highlight applications that violate its badware guidelines, have led major corporations—including AOL, Real Networks and Sears Holding Corporation—to make changes to their software to protect customer choice. Its collaboration with Google in warning users about websites that can install malware on visitors’ computers, and in assisting with the remediation and prevention of such compromised sites, has increased awareness of the role individual site owners can play in reducing the spread of malware.

“There is still much to do. Badware remains a growing problem, but in the past few years, there’s also been a growing sense that this is a problem we—the Internet community—can and should work together to address. StopBadware is committed to making that happen,” Weinstein said.

StopBadware Home site here.  

About the Berkman Center for Internet & Society

The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University is a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study and help pioneer its development. Founded in 1997, through a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman, the Center is home to an ever-growing community of faculty, fellows, staff and affiliates working on projects that span the broad range of intersections between cyberspace, technology, and society.

Berkman home site here.

Tom Kelchner