Updated on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 10:18 a.m. EST.
In a victory for privacy advocates, an Orlando, Fla.-based company has been ordered not to sell keylogger spyware. The company, CyberSpy Software, marketed a product called RemoteSpy keylogger spyware to customers, who in turn were enabled to secretly monitor unsuspecting users' computers.
The U.S. District Court court order, sustaining an action brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), said: "Consumers throughout the United States have likely suffered and will likely continue to suffer substantial injury, including monetary loss, as a result of defendants' unlawful acts or practices. In addition, defendants have been unjustly enriched as a result of their unlawful practices.”
The FTC complaint said that CyberSpy Software promoted the program as a “100 percent undetectable” way to spy on others. The FTC complaint also said that the defendants unfairly collected and stored the personal information gathered by their spyware on their own servers and disclosed it to their clients.
According to papers filed with the court, CyberSpy provided its clients with detailed instructions explaining how to disguise the spyware as an innocuous file, such as a photo attached to an email. When the victims clicked on the disguised file, the keylogger spyware installed itself without the victims' knowledge and recorded every keystroke typed – including passwords.
In addition to halting the sale of RemoteSpy software, CyberSpy was ordered to disconnect any servers that collect, store or provide access to information that its software gathered. The court also said that it may award other damages, such as ill-gotten gains.
The complaint named Tracer R. Spence – the registered agent and manager of CyberSpy – as the person “liable and culpable for the charges made in this case.”
This represents at least a small victory against what some people regard as one of the most nefarious ploys out there.
Some technical progress against the threat of keyloggers is being made. For example, the 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Server 2008 implement mandatory digital signing of kernel-mode device drivers, which restricts installation of keylogging rootkits.
A CyberSpy representative could not be reached for comment. The company's website remained inaccessible as of Tuesday morning EST.