Feeds

Webmaster pays $3,300 to settle malware charges

Promises he'll never do it again

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

A webmaster is to surrender $3,300 in ill-gotten gains and refrain from making misleading claims, to settle federal charges he deceived consumers into installing spyware, dialer programs and other types of malware.

Nicholas C. Albert lured unwitting computer users into installing the payload by promising a file that allowed bloggers to stream free songs on their websites, according to a complaint (PDF) filed in late 2005 by the Federal Trade Commission. What Albert failed to mention is that the file came bundled with a malware package from an outlet that went by the name Enternet Media, among others.

Bloggers who downloaded the file were treated to a Javascript that caused their sites to display links to Enternet offerings. Web users who visited sites infected with the scripts received pop-up windows that gave alarming security warnings such as: "YOU have an OUT OF DATE browser which can cause you to get infected with viruses, spam and spyware. To prevents this, press YES now." Those who fell for the ruse didn't actually receive a browser update but instead got code that tracked their online activity, changed browser settings, installed toolbars and displayed advertising.

According to FTC prosecutors, Albert was an affiliate for Enternet. He agreed to permanently stop "interfering with consumers' computer use," including distributing malware, and making false claims about software he may offer in the future. He also agreed to allow FTC officials to monitor any affiliate marketing activities he may take up in the next eight years.

Officials with Enternet, which also went by names such as as Conspy, Lida Rohbani, Nima Hakimi, and Baback (Babak) Hakimi, agreed in September to pay $2 million to settle FTC charges related to their role in the scheme. Their badware masqueraded under benign-sounding names such as "Search Miracle," "Miracle Search," "EM Toolbar," "EliteBar," and "Elite Toolbar," according to the FTC.

Commissioners' vote to approve the settlement was 5-0. Albert lived or still lives in Ohio, while Enternet officials are in California, according to the FTC. The case was brought with the assistance of Microsoft, Webroot Software and Google. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.