June 6th, 08

Banking giant ING looks for better online security to protect customer transactions.

May 26th, 08

Half A Million Computer Users Duped Into Downloading Spyware With Booby-Trapped Music & Movie Files

May 8th, 08

Internet provider admits installing spyware on customers' computers.

May 1st, 08

System Doctor creator Ron Cooke faces charges.

April 25th, 08

New Phishing Scam targets Paypal users.

Technology News

Internet Provider BT Admits Installing Spyware on Customers' Computers

BT Internet, an Internet provider that provides Internet access to over 30% of Great Britain, admitted earlier this week they infected customers' computers with spyware to gain information about their personal Internet activity.  BT recently was under fire in 2007 for partnering with Phorm, nicknamed the "Spyware Boss".  BT customers are outraged.

Over 36,000 customers were spied on following BT's merge with Phorm, many of them not aware of BT's activities.  When customers called BT to report suspicious activity, BT representatives claimed it was a software virus.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.

BT's partner, Phorm, developed spying software for BT, which was tested on BT's customers through 2007.  They originally developed the software in 2006.  Although BT executives claim they never recorded any personally identifiable information, customers are worried that was not the case.  Some customers are preparing to sue BT for illegally spying and installing malicious spyware.  Executives claim they broke no laws by installing this spyware.

How BT Used Spyware to Spy on Customers
BT's spyware is unique, developed by U.S. company Phorm.  It records each customer's movement on the Internet, recording website visits and search engine results.  The spyware then relays that information to BT, generating a detailed file on the customer's likes, dislikes, and so forth. 

Although it sounds harmless from first glance, customers report having computer problems as a result of this malicious software.  Critics of BT think they are not only doing this maliciously, but illegally as well.  Because BT never informed its customers of the installation, this could be a breach of privacy as well.

They now say they will ask customers before they install more versions of this spyware onto their computers. 

Why BT Installed Spyware on Customers' Computers
BT claims they originally contracted Phorm to develop this spyware to customize online advertising according to a customer's preferences.  As the spyware collects data, advertising is targeted according to the data collected, giving customers a more customized experience. 

However, customers are not happy.  Their reasoning also raises new questions about the legitimacy of their reasoning.  Some customers say they do not like ads, even those customized to their preferences.  Others are fearful of other information BT gained by installing this software.  BT reassures customers this was not the case, but the spyware tells a different story.

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself From a Future Attack
If you are a BT customer or a regular Internet user, you now know that no place is safe for your computer – not even with Internet providers.  The best way to protect your computer and your information is with careful preparation. 

The first thing you should do is install anti-spyware, such as Ad-Aware.  Some anti-viruses already come with anti-spyware, so check first.  Make sure to update it regularly.  Scan your computer every day to check for harmful spyware.

If you notice any suspicious activity, make sure to report it.  Ask a computer professional if the suspicious activity does not cease after an anti-spyware scan.

Regardless of whatever you find, make sure to clean your computer registry on a regular basis.  Download a registry cleaner, such as RegCure, to clean out leftover computer data.  This protects your computer and increases its longevity.  Do this every 6 months for a healthy, well-rounded computer.

Do these steps to ensure your computer does not become one of BT's next victims