Feeds

'Spamford' Wallace fined $4m over spyware biz

FTC cracks down on rogue operations

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Sanford 'Spamford' Wallace has been fined $4m and ordered to restrict the deceptive spyware practices of his company, Smartbot.Net, after losing a lawsuit brought by the US Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC alleged that Wallace's software takes advantage of well-known IE vulnerabilities to infiltrate PC and secretly change user's settings and hijack their search engines, before serving up a barrage of pop-up ads. The ads try to bully users into buying anti-spyware products, Spy Wiper or Spy Deleter, for $30 a throw. Worse still, the products fail to clean up systems, the FTC says.

A default judgment against Wallace and Smartbot.Net orders them to give up $4m of their ill-gotten gains. The order also bars Wallace and Smartbot.Net from downloading spyware onto consumers' computers or distributing software that changes users PC settings without their consent. Jared Lansky, an ad broker who disseminated ads containing Wallace’s spyware via OptinTrade, was fined $227,000 in the same judgement.

The case against Wallace represents the first federal prosecution of a spyware case, although individual states such as Utah have targeted alleged spyware operations. Wallace claims he is being targeted because of his past as a notorious bulk mailer. His firm Cyber Promotions sent millions of spam emails a day before lawsuits from AOL and Compuserve prompted Wallace to leave the company and "abandon spamming".

In a second case, the FTC obtained a revised court injunction against Odysseus Marketing and its principal, Walter Rines, over their alleged spyware downloads. Odysseus Marketing alleged tricked users into downloading a software bundle containing spyware components via promises that it would allow consumers to engage in anonymous peer-to-peer file sharing. According to the FTC, the spyware package actually hijacked search engines and reformatted search engine results, placing Rines’ clients first.

The FTC recently amended its complaint, charging that the defendants exploit security vulnerabilities to distribute spyware that captured consumers’ personal information. this data - including their names, addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers, internet browsing and shopping history - was allegedly uploaded onto the net from compromised machines and sold by Odysseus. The revised injunction bans the defendants from downloading spyware without consumers’ consent, and from disclosing, using, or further obtaining consumers’ personal information, pending trial. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.