Feeds

FTC fines three men $330,000 for pushing spyware

Slap on the wrist shows that cyber crime pays

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.