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Feds shutter one-stop stalker shop

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Federal watchdogs have shut down a website that advertised a comprehensive snooping service that included a stealthy trojan, online support, and a database that sorted and stored the confidential passwords, chat transcripts, and activities of those being stalked.

The action by the Federal Trade Commission was taken against Remotespy.com, a website that marketed "100% undetectable" keylogging software. The website taught customers how to disguise it as a graphic and embed it in email or word processing documents so unwitting users would be tricked into clicking on it. Once installed, the program monitored a user's every move, including keystrokes entered, applications opened, and websites visited.

"The invasion of privacy and security resulting from collecting and disclosing confidential consumer information without the computer owner's knowledge and authorization causes or is likely to cause substantial harm to consumers and the public," the FTC argued in a complaint (PDF) filed in federal court in Florida. "Consumers cannot reasonably avoid these injuries because defendants' practices are entirely invisible to them."

US District Judge Gregory A Presnell granted the FTC's request for a temporary restraining order halting the sale of keylogger while the case is pending. The watchdog agency will now turn its efforts to permanently barring the website from operating and seizing any ill-gotten gains.

According to FTC attorneys, the website was run by Florida-based CyberSpy Software. Attempts to reach Tracer R. Spence, who held himself out as the CEO of CyberSpy, to request comment for this story were not successful.

In addition to pushing RemoteSpy as a way to "spy on anyone from anywhere," the website acted as an online repository that stored and organized information that had been surreptitiously logged. Customers could use a password to access a database that organized the contents by passwords, recent screenshots, and websites visited.

Not everyone seems to have been a satisfied customer, based on complaints such as these. ®

The next step in data security

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