Microsoft is now taking the legal route to take on developers of scareware applications. The company has filed lawsuits against five companies which they claim indulge in such practices.
Malvertising is the term used to describe harmful online advertising and works by camouflaging malicious code as harmless online advertisements.
Microsoft claims in their lawsuits that these companies use advertising services to “distribute malicious software or present deceptive websites that peddled scareware to unsuspecting Internet users”.
Scareware applications show messages with fake virus alerts to scare the user and then ask them to pay on the spot for solutions.
These five companies are:
- DirectAd Solutions
- Soft Solutions
Microsoft’s associate general counsel, Tim Cranton, announced the move in a blog post.
The company is accusing the defendants of spreading so-called “malvertisements,” ads that can end up infecting computers with damaging software.
“For example,” Cranton wrote, “ads may redirect users to a Web site that advertises rogue security software, also known as scareware, that falsely claims to detect or prevent threats on the computer.”
A similar type of ad popped up last weekend on the Web site of The New York Times, one of the most popular news sites. It purported to scan visitors’ computers for viruses and warned them to buy antivirus software.
Malvertisements may also introduce software that can steal personal data or take control of a computer, Cranton said.
Microsoft is asking a court in Seattle for damages as well as an order barring the advertisers from operating.
E-mail messages to ote2008.info and DirectAd were not immediately returned and phone numbers were not available for the companies. A phone call to ITmeter INC. went unanswered as did an e-mail message, while registration records for qiweroqw.com domain name had no contact information for the company. No contact information was available for Soft Solutions, which Microsoft said was separate from businesses operating by that name in Atlanta and France.
“The lawsuits allege that individuals using the business names “Soft Solutions,” “Direct Ad,” “qiweroqw.com,” “ITmeter Inc” and “ote2008.info” used malvertisements to distribute malicious software or present deceptive websites that peddled scareware to unsuspecting Internet users,” Microsoft’s associate general counsel Tim Cranton said.
Microsoft posted copies of our court filings online:
- Microsoft Corp. and Microsoft Online Inc. v. John Does 1-20, d/b/a DirectAd Solutions: King Co. Superior Court Cause No. 09-2-34024-2 SEA
- Microsoft Corp. v. John Does 1-20, d/b/a Soft Solutions, Inc. King Co. Superior Court Cause No. 09-2-34021-8 SEA
- Microsoft Corp. v. John Does 1-20, d/b/a qiweroqw.com: King Co. Superior Court Cause No. 09-2-34020-0 SEA
- Microsoft Corp. v. John Does 1-20, d/b/a ote2008.info: King Co. Superior Court Cause No. 09-2-34022-6 SEA
- Microsoft Corp. v. John Does 1-20, d/b/a ITmeter Inc. : King Co. Superior Court Cause No. 09-2-34023-4 SEA