Spyware Sucks
“There is no magic fairy dust protecting Macs" – Dai Zovi, author of “The Mac Hacker’s Handbook"

FTC Approves Final Order Settling Charges Against Software and Rent-to-Own Companies Accused of Computer Spying

April 15th 2013 in Uncategorized

“Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved nine final orders settling charges that seven rent-to-own companies and a software design firm and its two principals spied on consumers using computers that consumers rented from them. The companies used software to take screenshots of confidential and personal information, log customers’ computer keystrokes, and in some cases take webcam pictures of people in their own homes, all without the customers’ knowledge.”

Cite: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2013/04/designerware.shtm

 

“An agreement to rent a computer doesn’t give a company license to access consumers’ private emails, bank account information, and medical records, or, even worse, webcam photos of people in the privacy of their own homes,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC.  “The FTC orders today will put an end to their cyber spying.”

“There is no justification for spying on customers.  These tactics are offensive invasions of personal privacy,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.”

Cite: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/09/designerware.shtm

 

“As of August 2011, approximately 1,617 rent-to-own stores in the United States, Canada, and Australia have licensed PC Rental Agent. PC Rental Agent has been installed on approximately 420,000 computers worldwide.”

Cite: http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/1123151/designerware/120925designerwarecmpt.pdf

 

Back in October 2012, a news report revealed that a Geelong business called “Rentasaur” said it will continue to install the software on its users’ computers, despite a crackdown in the US on companies that used it:
http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/security-it/spyware-installed-on-australian-rental-laptops-20121003-26yfd.html


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ISC has a nice write up: http://isc.sans.edu/diary/Java+7+Update+21+is+available+-+Watch+for+Behaviour+Changes+/15620   Note that the warning screens are not “click thru” (that is, you need to enable a check box before acknowledging the alert). A small, but important, layer of protection.

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