A US state has secured a $1m (£508,000) settlement from a rogue spyware firm in the first test of its new anti-spyware laws.
Washington's attorney general Rob McKenna sued Secure Computer, claiming it had broken the state’s anti-spyware Act by misrepresenting security threats to persuade people to buy its software.
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Secure Computer’s president, Paul Burke, will now pay $75,000 to compensate more than 1,000 Washington residents who bought the software, plus $200,000 in penalties and another $725,000 in costs.
The firm had used advertising pop-ups on websites to lure users into buying its products. The pop-ups, designed to look like Windows alerts, warned users that their computer could be infected with spyware and offered to carry out a free scan.
The fake scan produced results showing spyware infections, which users were urged to tackle with a paid-for version of the company's Spyware Cleaner software. But tests carried out by Washington state authorities found that Spyware Cleaner failed to detect real spyware.
Microsoft is also taking Secure Computer to court, claiming that its use of Microsoft trademarks falsely suggested that the software giant backed its product.
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