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15 November 2006, 09:58

US court puts the screws on Spyware company

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A district court in the US state of Nevada has issued a restraining order to shut down a spyware business. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed an action against the business, which operates under various names and using various websites, and the four men behind it.

The FTC accuses the companies of installing malware onto millions of computers without the consent of users. The supposedly free software (screen savers and videos) also loaded other programs such as the malware program "Motor Media", which manipulates the user's computer without his consent. The malware then carries out actions including changing the user's homepage settings, installing difficult to remove toolbars and placing advertising links on the desktop. The program also tracks users' internet activities and bombards the user with porno pop-ups.

The court sees good cause for the FTC's complaint and has issued a corresponding restraining order. The defendants must cease their activities until further notice and respond to the complaint by this afternoon (Tuesday). This includes financial disclosure. The FTC has applied for the company to give up its illegally obtained profits. The court has therefore temporarily frozen the defendants' assets.

Civil actions of this nature brought by the FTC often lead to settlements with high fines. Two spyware brothers were forced to give up US $ 2 million of their ill-gotten gains, and adware business Zango was forced to cough up $ 3 million dollars. In parallel to the civil action by the FTC, the Attorney's Office also tends to be interested in spyware businesses. And so it is in this case - the U.S. Attorney's Office is carrying out a criminal investigation and has already executed search warrants.


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