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FTC clamps down on spyware firm

Journey's end for Odysseus

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The US’ Federal Trade Commission has gone after what it claims is a spyware and adware operation that invaded users’ machines and served up bogus search pages.

The FTC has asked a US district court judge to “halt” the “unfair and deceptive” activities of Stratham, New Hampshire-based Odysseus Marketing, and its principal, Walter Rines.

Odysseus advertised free software which it claimed would allow consumers to anonymously engage in peer-to-peer file sharing, the FTC claims. However, the software did not make file sharing anonymous, and was bundled with spy ware called Clientman which downloaded dozens more programs, clogging and slowing users’ machines. The bundled software served up pop-ups, captured and transmitted information, and replaced and reformatted search results, serving up rigged results to place the defendants’ clients first.

A disclosure about the spyware was buried in the firm’s T/Cs, the FTC claims, and Odysseus made the software difficult to detect and uninstall.

Adding insult to injury, an uninstall feature did not actually uninstall the software, but actually downloaded more programs, the FTC said.

The latest FTC action came as the agency chairman, Deborah Platt Majoras, testified to a senate sub-committee on the problem of spy ware and what the agency was doing to quash it.®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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