Microsoft and Washingto AG sue corrupt anti-spyware vendor

On Wednesday, January 25, Microsoft and Western Washington US District Court have filled lawsuits against Secure Computer, a New York-based company, which sells Spyware Cleaner, a well-known corrupt anti-spyware program. The Microsoft suit alleges that the company used pop-up and e-mail spam to advertise its software and illegally used the Microsoft name and trademarks for a long time. That spam contained notices stating that rogue software was endorsed by Microsoft. This could trick users into purchasing the full version of Spyware Cleaner. The Washington US District Court’s suit (PDF here) alleges Secure Computer and its affiliates that they use false and misleading means to push Spyware Cleaner to user computers.

According to the lawsuits, Spyware Cleaner is unable to correctly recognize and eliminate spyware parasites. It uses false positives detecting legitimate harmless objects as malicious threats. Furthermore, the application displays deceptive warnings and deletes some system components such as the Hosts file without asking for user permission. This means that Spyware Cleaner does not protect the system, but makes it even less secure.

If the allegations are true, Secure Computer will have to pay penalties. Laws impose different penalties from $500 to $100,000 per violation. The estimated number of affected users is several thousands, so the penalties will amount to millions of dollars.

This looks like the end for Spyware Cleaner. Let’s hope other corrupt anti-spyware vendors will suffer the same fate.

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