Spyware Firm Ordered To Clean Up Its Act

RemoteSpy websiteSophos reports that CyberSpy, the Florida firm that marketed a spyware program to those who wished to “spy on anyone, from anywhere”, was ordered to stop selling its RemoteSpy keylogging program, which made it simple for people to snoop on remote PCs without the knowledge of their true owners, and then allowed again.

The battle between the US Federal Trade Commission and CyberSpy may finally be over.  Looks like a win for the feds, who have ordered the Orlando-based company to rewrite its keylogging software, and change the way it markets its product.

When innocent internet users clicked on the file, often disgusied as an innocuous image, the RemoteSpy program would silently install itself onto the victims’ computer, monitoring every keystroke, email and instant message, and logging every website visited. 

In summary:

  • CyberSpy will no longer advertise that their spyware can be be disguised and installed on someone else’s computer without the owner’s knowledge.
  • The software will now notify the user that the program has been downloaded, and ask for permission for installation.
  • The company can no longer provide purchasers with the means to disguise the product. 
  • CyberSpy will be required to inform their customers that improper use of the software may break the law.
  • CyberSpy must ensure that any data it collects from a computer is encrypted before being transmitted across the internet.
  • The company must remove legacy versions of its software from computers. That could be quite a challenge.
  • Finally, CyberSpy has been told that it must police its affiliates to ensure that they also comply with the order. That’s an important element, as we see plenty of dubious software packages being promoted unethically or illegally in exchange for a few dollars worth of commission.

CyberSpy, isn’t the only business working in this “grey” area between legitimate and malicious software.  The products are often marketed as a way to spy on philandering spouses, or for concerned parents to keep an eye on what junior is up to, rather than identity theft.