Consumer groups launch badware-busting community

Web site will host discussions and ratings of software and Web sites that could cause trouble.

The people behind StopBadware.org have launched a Web site where ordinary people can band together to fight computer viruses and adware.

The online community site, called BadwareBusters.org, launched Tuesday. It is sponsored by Harvard University's Berkman Center, which runs StopBadware.org, and Consumer Reports WebWatch, an online information source for Web users.

Designed for consumers, the site features an easy-to-use discussion forum with a rating and reputation system where people can share their opinions of different programs and Web sites.

Ordinary users can use BadwareBusters as a first stop for advice after their computers or Web sites get hacked, or flagged as suspicious by Google, said Maxim Weinstein, manager of StopBadware.org. "The site is basically a Web-based discussion forum with a rating and reputation system."

Those ratings can be particularly helpful in avoiding malicious Trojan horse programs and adware. Makers of these programs often do their best to make their software seem innocuous so they can trick users into agreeing to a download.

BadwareBusters has been quietly run in beta mode for the past few months. It doesn't have a lot of features right now, but its creators are looking for ideas on how to further develop the community.

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