US court stops sale of commercial spyware
A US court has issued a restraining order to prevent Florida-based vendor CyberSpy Software from selling its RemoteSpy program. RemoteSpy is a commercial spy software which registers keyboard inputs, records instant messages, regularly takes screenshots, logs visited web pages and sends all the data it collects to a server. The users of RemoteSpy can log into the server and retrieve the data collected about the victim from there. RemoteSpy is said to employ rootkit techniques to hide from virus scanners.
The restraining order has now halted any future sales of the spy tool. In addition, CyberSpy was ordered to switch off both the web servers that offered RemoteSpy and the server containing the data collected by the program. The servers are currently inaccessible. According to a news release, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) raised the complaint against the vendor because the software violates regulations that stipulate that it is illegal for programs to install themselves on a computer without the user's consent, or to secretly collect data. The release says a complaint filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) brought the RemoteSpy software to the FTC’s attention.
Whether similar orders will now be issued for other vendors of this type of commercial software remains to be seen. Similar products are offered by companies like Refog with its KGB Employee Monitor for monitoring PCs and by Vervata with its Flexispy for mobile phones. The latter vendor, however, is officially registered in Thailand and may be able to evade US jurisdiction as a result.
- Federal Trade Commission v. CyberSpy Software, LLC, and Tracer R. Spence, the FTC complaint