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 SCMagazineUS.com 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:

Sign up to our newsletters

More in News

EFF intros wireless router software to boost industry standard

EFF intros wireless router software to boost industry ...

This weekend, the digital rights group released a "hacker alpha" version of its Open Wireless Router software.

Breaches driving organizational security strategy, survey indicates

Breaches driving organizational security strategy, survey indicates

CyberArk interviewed 373 IT security executives and other senior management in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific as part of its eighth annual Global Advanced Threat Landscape survey.

Siemens industrial products impacted by four OpenSSL vulnerabilities

The vulnerabilities can be exploited remotely, and fairly easily, by an attacker to hijack sessions and crash the web server of the product.