Just over four years ago, Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society started a project to experiment with ways to combat malicious software. Leaders of the project, called StopBadware, announced this week that it now stands alone as a nonprofit organization. Google, PayPal, and Mozilla, which have supported the organization in the past, will continue to do so.
Malicious software, or “badware” as the organization calls it, includes viruses and spyware that infiltrate a computer without the user’s consent. StopBadware analyzes data and reports trends in Web-based infections on its blog. It also encourages people to prevent and remove badware from their computer, clean and secure their Web site, and join an online discussion about badware.
Maxim Weinstein, the executive director of StopBadware, explained that in the years since its conception, StopBadware evolved from an academic experiment to something that was more characteristic of a nonprofit organization.
“When we started the project, we were saying, ‘Let’s try something new; let’s experiment; let’s see if we can find a way to address malware problems through a community-based, Internet-based approach,” Mr. Weinstein said.
However, Mr. Weinstein said, eventually the people involved with the project started talking about how to raise funds for and expand the project. They realized that companies and individuals were depending on the work they did and that StopBadware’s purpose had changed.
“If at a certain point, it’s not about experimenting with what we can do, but about doing what we’re doing, maybe it’s time to become independent,” Mr. Weinstein said.