A Spyware No-Brainer
This morning we joined with StopBadware in filing a Federal Trade Commission complaint against spyware purveyor FastMP3Search.com.ar. I would first like to thank StopBadware for all the time and effort they put into investigating and documenting this particularly malicious software distributor. We are always pleased to be able to join forces with other organizations working to achieve our shared goal of protecting consumers online. With so much malicious software out on the Internet today, it can be difficult for CDT to determine where its focus should lie. The FastMP3Search Plugin, however, was a no-brainer. This software bundle engages in so many illicit behaviors and bogs down users' computers with so many junky extras that it clearly tops the list for worst actors in this space. Perhaps its worst offense is disabling consumers' firewall software without providing any notice or attaining consent. Disabling the firewall leaves such consumers' computers completely unprotected and open, allowing additional software to secretly install itself without the users' knowledge or consent. This single act could effectively ruin consumers' computers in the long run if their unprotected Internet connections are later used to install even more malicious software. Add in the installation of adware and Trojan horse applications, changing homepage settings, causing intermittent crashes, impairing computer performance, and sabotaging valid Web addresses for security companies, and you can see what havoc the FastMP3Search Plugin has caused for consumers. The final behavior listed above - sabotaging valid Web addresses for security companies - may be even more damaging than it seems at first due to recent increased distribution of rogue anti-spyware products. Installing the Plugin changes thirty-two Web addresses belonging to major anti-virus and anti-spyware software vendors. As a result of these modifications, any attempt by the user to reach these Web sites through a Web browser results in an error page. Thus, users may end up turning to rogue security vendors - whose Web sites are not blocked - in order to get some relief from the malicious Plugin bundle. These rogue products require payment from consumers but provide no such aid in cleaning up their computers. This creates an incredibly harrowing environment for consumers, and it shows one more reason why we are urging the FTC to shut down this dangerous operation.