Media Motor creator settles spyware charges with FTC

Share this article:
ERG Ventures LLC, the organization behind the Media Motor spyware program, has agreed to settle charges with the federal government for $330,000.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged ERG in November 2006 with violating the FTC Act by tricking consumers into downloading malware.

The settlement bars the organization from downloading software onto PCs without disclosing its function and obtaining customer consent.

The FTC alleged that ERG hid Media Motor, a program known to slow PC use, among screensavers and video files. The malware had been downloaded onto 15 million computers, according to the agency.

Media Motor was found to change end-users' homepages and browser settings, track browsing and disable anti-virus and anti-spyware software, according to the FTC.

ERG and its principals were alleged to have failed to disclose that their free software was bundled with malware, as well as to have used a deceptive end-user license agreement.

A U.S. District Court in Nevada froze ERG's assets and ordered a halt to the spyware operation pending trial.

If the court finds that ERG misrepresented its financial status, the company will owe nearly $3.6 million.
The FTC, which credited Microsoft with assisting the agency, voted to accept the settlement by a 5-0 vote.

Contact information for ERG could not be obtained.

Eric Howes, director of malware research at Sunbelt Software, told today that Media Motor, which was most popular in late 2005 and early 2006, was done in by press attention paid to the widespread Windows metafile exploit.

“That exploit got so much press attention, and the press was actually naming the companies using the exploit," he said. "It was right at the end of January [2006] that a lot of these companies doing mass adware installs just disappeared."

Howes noted that the amount of money agreed to in the settlement, $330,000, is significantly lower than the $3.6 million the company made.

“They're essentially going to let these guys walk away with that, unless they've misrepresented their mass wealth,” he said.
Share this article:
You must be a registered member of SC Magazine to post a comment.

Sign up to our newsletters

More in News

Ground system for weather satellites contains thousands of 'high-risk' bugs

Ground system for weather satellites contains thousands of ...

An audit of the Joint Polar Satellite System ground system revealed thousands of vulnerabilities, most of which will be addressed in two years when the next version of the system ...

Threat report on Swedish firms shows 93 percent were breached

The study by KPMG and FireEye also found that 49 percent of detected malware was unknown.

Former acting HHS cyber director convicted on child porn charges

Former acting HHS cyber director convicted on child ...

Timothy DeFoggi, who was nabbed by the FBI last year in its Operation Torpedo investigation was convicted by federal jury in Nebraska.