Feeds

FTC fines three men $330,000 for pushing spyware

Slap on the wrist shows that cyber crime pays

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Three men accused of forcing spyware onto more than 15 million computers have agreed to pay $330,000 in fines and to to be monitored by federal authorities for up to eight years.

The penalty settles charges by the Federal Trade Commission that Elliott S. Cameron, Robert A. Davidson II and Garry E. Hill violated federal consumer laws by tricking people into installing malware dubbed Media Motor. The spyware was associated with various companies, including ERG Ventures, Joysticksavers.com and Privateinpublic.com.

The defendants collectively agreed to cough up $330,000. That's not exactly a king's ransom, especially considering the $3.6m in revenue generated by their scam. The agreement requires the men to surrender the entire amount, but also suspends all but the above-stated fine. So, if the lads behave themselves, they look to come out of the ordeal with quite a bit of cash.

For their part, prosecutors can certainly portray the arrangement as a carrot that entices the men to fulfill the terms of the settlement.

But the prosecutors' shell game makes it just as reasonable to say that pushing malware generates good money, in this case more than $3.2m.

The men stood accused of hiding the Media Motor spyware within screensavers and video files. Media Motor, in turn, unleashed a fury of other programs that visited all kinds of system changes on unfortunate end users, including changing default home pages, 2) adding a hard-to-remove toolbar that displayed ads on internet browsers, tracking consumers' browsing activity and generating repeated and occasionally pornographic pop up advertising.

For the next eight years, the men are required to keep records of their business activities and make them available to FTC investigators. They are also required to establish a mechanism for consumer complaints about any new business ventures they may establish. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.