Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/04/05/spitzer_blitzes_spyware/

Spitzer blitzes adware

Popup suit

By Andrew Orlowski

Posted in Security, 5th April 2006 09:24 GMT

New York state's pugilistic Attorney General has spyware in his sights. Eliot Spitzer has sued Direct Revenue for deceptive advertising, computer tampering and trespass.

The suit claims the company installed malware on PCs without users' explicit consent, typically after luring them with the offer of a browser enhancement or other utility, such as "Faster XP". The software then tracks their web usage and bombards them with pop-up advertisements.

Four Direct Revenue executives are named in the suit, which seeks $2,000 compensation per claimant. The suit claims 150m spyware applications have been installed since late 2002.

The suit cites former Direct Revenue CEO Josh Abram boasting in an email: "We have a very stealthy version of our adware product which we're happy to give u... Don't worry. If we do a deal - a build together - these will not be caught."

Which is true; removing the adware even stumps the experts.

Direct Revenue also used Microsoft Active X controls to install its stealth software.

For the user to understand that they were allowing the company to install advertising software, they had to click on a link presented in the EULA, read 11 pages of text to discover another URL, then click and read to the end of the this third piece of legalese.

Direct Revenue objects to the term "spyware", and says it no longer engages in these practices.

FasterXP.com was offline at time of publication ®.