Spyware Charges Praised - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-09-2004, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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Spyware Charges Praised

The groundbreaking action by the Federal Trade Commission against two New Hampshire software companies is "long overdue," said one local computer expert.

"The ‘spyware’ problem has reached epidemic proportions," said Dave Brooks, the computer service manager at Better Technology Here, a Portsmouth company. "Every computer we have going through here has some form of spyware on it. That’s guaranteed."

In the first case of its kind in the country, the FTC Thursday requested a temporary restraining order from the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire against Seismic Entertainment Productions Inc., Smartbot.Net, Inc., and Sanford Wallace.

The FTC said the companies secretly installed the software on computers, causing systems to be overwhelmed by pop-up advertisements, and then sending them alarming messages saying they needed to buy "Spy Wiper" or "Spy Deleter" for $30.

Seismic is based in Rochester while SmartBot is in Richboro, Pa., with its principal place of business in Barrington. Wallace is officer and director of both Seismic and SmartBot.

The FTC alleges the defendants have unfairly changed consumers’ Web browsers, installed advertising and other software programs, and compelled purchase of anti-spyware software.

Brooks said the Internet has spawned industries of scams that cost computer users time and money.

"A lot of users are being encouraged to buy scanners (which detect viruses and spyware) that don’t work or aren’t needed. There are more fake scanners out there than real ones," he said.

Advertising is driving the increase in spyware, Brooks said. The software "is designed force your browser to certain places and monitor your web serving habit for target pop-up ads."

While some of the spyware can seem benign and annoying, more sophisticated forms can monitor your keystroke actions - which may be inconsequential if sending an e-mail but catastrophic if using on-line banking.

Brooks said users can protect themselves from spyware by restricting peer to peer file sharing, avoid free games and perform more frequent maintenance.

"The best thing to do is be very weary about anything free on the Internet," he said.

In its action against Seismic and SmartBot, the FTC is asking the court, among other things, to temporarily:

Restrain defendants from publishing, disseminating or distributing software code, script or any other content on or through the Internet, Web and other places.

Require defendants to remove the software script that exploits Web browser vulnerabilities from any Web site, Web page, and other places.

Require defendants to produce documents relating to their Internet marketing.

The House recently passed two bills that would outlaw spyware. The Internet Spyware Prevention Act would give the Justice Department $10 million to crack down on companies and others that secretly install spyware and those who attempt to dupe victims into releasing personal details and financial information in e-mail scams.

Anyone caught installing spyware to change a computer’s security settings or steal a victim’s personal information could be sentenced up to two years in prison.

The other bill would add hefty civil penalties over the use of spyware.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-09-2004, 12:19 PM
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RE: Spyware Charges Praised

Perhaps you saw my posting about the Chinese executing 4 people for mortgage banking fraud. I do believe stealing people identities and ruining their lives is equally as bad.
Oops, there goes my membership in the "liberal" club.
Or just tell me where these people live.
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