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Eye On Olympia

State sues spyware company…

Washington state on Tuesday filed suit in U.S. district court in Seattle, accusing White Plains, New-York-based Secure Computer and associates in the United States and India of marketing software that renders computers more susceptible to spyware attacks.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna said the software falsely claims that computers are infected with spyware, and offers “Spyware Cleaner” for $49.95. The program is advertised through spam, pop-ups and “deceptive hyperlinks,” McKenna said.

“Not only did this product fail to detect and remove spyware on the consumer’s computer,” McKenna said, “it actually tampered with security settings to make the machine even more vulnerable.”

It was marketed through a “free scan” offered to people browsing the web, and invariably, McKenna said, the “free scan” detected spyware, even if none existed on the computer.

Washington last year passed a spyware law making it illegal to induce someone to download software by falsely claiming that a program is neccessary for security purposes. The penalty: up to $100,000 per violation.

If you bought Spyware Cleaner and you live in Washington State , you can contact the attorney general’s office to file a complaint form.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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