Malwarebytes Brand Exploited Through Search

It’s not often that I search for the term Malwarebytes on Google. I know how to get to my own company’s website by typing it into the address bar. However, when a friend or family member asks me how to get to our website, I almost always instruct them to search.

Unfortunately, there exists a market where bad people benefit by preying on our users. They create websites which advertise that they distribute Malwarebytes and instead, download a product of their own onto our user’s machine. They advertise on Google and turn up in search results. I’d equate this to a cereal company packaging their generic, less delicious brand into a Cheerios box and putting it on shelves.

Search result exploiting the Malwarebytes brand

If you see a page like this, it is fraudulent and you should go directly to www.malwarebytes.org instead.

It makes me sick, and I refuse to let it go on. Today, I instructed our legal team to pursue all of these cheaters in hopes that we can wipe them from the face of the Internet.

But that’s not all. How far is too far? Should advertisers on Google be allowed to use company names as keywords? If I search for Cheerios, should the first advertisement be for the generic brand? It’s allowed, a common practice, and in my opinion completely unethical.

38 thoughts on “Malwarebytes Brand Exploited Through Search

  1. You can usually send a DMCA takedown right to the registrar if the domain is an attempt to cyber squat, I have had to do it once or twice before.

  2. I agree with you, Marcin. I wish you well in your legal pursuit of these unethical fraudsters. Time and again I have to visit my clients to repair their computers because they clicked on bogus software. Sure it makes me money, but I care about my clients and I want to protect them against fraud because if they are compromised by fraudulent software, I feel their pain and it ultimately affects my business.

  3. Completely unethical, I agree. The big trouble isn’t only that it directs traffic away from the legitimate website, but an unwary user could download this software instead–and if it was ineffective or even dangerous, it could potentially damage the Malwarebytes name for someone who doesn’t know better!

    Hopefully legal action can help and wipe search results clean of any imposters. 🙂

  4. I am in total agreement. I for one am not the most savy tech user. I am one of the ones that also hate it when you are looking for “cherios” and everything under the sun pops up with the “cherios” word all over it, you click it and wham you are somewhere totally different than “cherios’……if this is what you are talking about then please PURSUE it for all of us out here who do not have the resources or the know how. Thank you….

  5. I completely agree about it being unethical to abuse “sponsored results” in search engines like that. I would love to see companies that run search engines put a little time into making sure that their systems are not being abused, but unfortunately it can be weeks after an abuse report is filed with major search engines before they take any action.

  6. I have known this problem for some time. How do you instruct a person that is not that familiar with the internet and computers to make sure they have arrived at the correct site. Google does not care from where it’s money comes and until legitimate companies start demanding that these imposters be put to the very back of the line in search results, the problem will remain. Google and other search engines are probably responsible for 90% of the malware delivered to unsuspecting users.

  7. It is unethical, but evidently not against federal law or Google’s own guidelines.
    It’s like a Big Mac, the one you see on the television commercial & the one about the size of a slider that you actually receive at the restaurant. I consider that unethical & gross misrepresentation, but until the law changes we as consumers get screwed. They need to rename the product or give a true representation of the product in the commercial.

  8. I totally agree…. If its not it should be illegal…, and it disturbs me that google allows this…. When it search Cheerios I want Cheerios not not Toasted Oats!

  9. I think you should pursue those who try to steal your brand or even worse make it appear you have made or endorsed a product. But how can you say it is unethical to use keywords to drive traffic and business opportunities? You have resellers and business that utilize your product to help a client, someone might be looking to remove malware type in malwarebytes and the magic of Google shows them repair shops in their area that can help them with it. Look at the tags in your own post :

    This entry was posted in General and tagged brand, exploited, fraud, google, malwarebytes, searches.

    You are using a keyword for Google, not your brand but if someone (and I know it would be rare in this instance) were to google the keyword google your post has a chance to show up in the results.

    I would caution that legal action and terms be used properly, don’t punish the many for the crimes of the few.

  10. Run a reverse IP lookup on that hosted site and see the other sites hosted there – fake handbags, sports jerseys, replica watches, knockoff shoes etc. Seems like you might be able to bring this to the attention to some of the other brands being knocked off on the same host.

  11. I posted a question yesterday and got a response from someone that had something fishy with it. Can I send it to you to inspect? Please email me if this is ok. Thanks This is a pasted version of my original message
    (Sean, Dec-20 02:23 pm (PST):
    Version: 1.51.2
    ————-

    My computers been acting funny too but I cant find nothing. Ive tried the flash scan as a trial but anytime I try to reinstall malwarebytes it automatically sets the activecare icon in the task bar and says my trial has expired and its annoying to see that down there. It makes me wonder if its even working in free mode so I un-installed it. Its kind of frustrating because I know how good the program is and really like it. Im just having alot slower performance and for no reason.)

  12. Unfortunately, you are not alone with this problem. It’s been an ongoing problem for all different kinds of companies. Back in 2008 American Airlines sued Yahoo for letting competitors and scammers buy ads with keywords American Airlines (among other things). You can read more about that here: http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2008/10/american_airlin_2.htm

    It’s definitely a real problem, especially for growing brands and established ones. It’ll be a tough fight, but it is an important one. I know Malwarebytes will be the ultimate successor in this story — one way or another.

    Good luck to Marcin and the Malwarebytes team.

  13. Is there not a trademark registered for that “name”? I do know that when a name is trademarked there is actually quite a bit you could do to anyone that tries to use it in a ill way. That is sad that internet scum has gotten so bad as to do things of that nature though, it certainly does not help proving that SOPA is something that we should do. In fact people that intentionally feed of others hard work makes me wish OPA passes…

  14. yup i have seen it happen also you serch for something like nividia drivers or something else like that . then you get a third party program downloading onto your pc scanning it. then it tell for 24-95 it will update my drivers why i can do it for free.

  15. I just want to say thank you for the awesome product that you provide for a fair price. I use the paid version, and recommend your product many times. I often get calls from customers who have been duped and paid for phony products. Keep up the good work!

  16. One thing that bugs me though is that even when we download from your site, we get kicked to cnet. I would recommend tem coming from your website. If anything use a CDN to spread bandwidth if needed. Cnet is blocked by opendns.com as distributing malware. Kinda funny.

    It makes me uneasy to get malwarebytes, but have to use cnet to download.

  17. Go get them, don’t stop until there are either sued to the stone age or until there crap websites are all down. I agree Google search should bring a client or a surfer to the brand, meaning they search for Malwarebytes they get malwarebytes.org.

    Merry Christmas

  18. Reputable sites have had this problem for years, basically we all do the white-hat stuff and keep ourselves clean, safe and child-friendly but then others come along, steal our keywords, copy our work and distribute virus after virus to unsuspecting users. They reap the rewards financially, and we are left to pick up the pieces and the cost. Is it time for the good to put their hacking skills to GOOD use?

  19. Marcin Kleczynski,
    Thank you for your thoughts on helping the hopeless. I’m married to one and have her hidden behind Sandboxie. Also I check her pc at least every month.
    Before I had even found this blog or knew your name I had a question to ask you.
    Other than MBAM, I use the Pro version, I would ask if you would be kind enough to share with me/us what other security you use on your own pc and what protection have you installed on your family’s pc’s? If not, then I understand.
    Happy Holidays.
    John

    • John, I actually do not use any protection aside from Malwarebytes on my personal PC. My parents have Malwarebytes and Avast and rarely have any issues. I let them choose Avast from a list of anti-virus products I recommended. I had them try them all and Avast was easier for them to use.

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