First Suit Filed Against Internet 'Spyware'

The U.S. government has sued a New Hampshire man in its first attempt to crack down on Internet "spyware" that seizes control of a user's computer without permission. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Thursday asked a federal court to shut down an operation that it said disables users' computers in an attempt to bully them into buying anti-spyware products. Internet users unwittingly download the software when they visit Web sites that contain certain banner ads, the FTC said.

The software exploits a hole in Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer Web browser to work its way onto computers without users' knowledge, according to the lawsuit. A Washington consumer group, the Center for Democracy and Technology, had demonstrated the software to Reuters before it filed a complaint with the FTC in February. The software hijacks Web browsers, causes CD-ROM trays to mysteriously slide open and slows down computers or causes them to cease working altogether.

News source: Reuters

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