Is Sears Engaging in Criminal Hacking Behavior?
Join "My SHC Community" on Sears.com, and the company will install some pretty impressive spyware on your computer:
Sears.com is distributing spyware that tracks all your Internet usage - including banking logins, email, and all other forms of Internet usage - all in the name of "community participation." Every website visitor that joins the Sears community installs software that acts as a proxy to every web transaction made on the compromised computer. In other words, if you have installed Sears software ("the proxy") on your system, all data transmitted to and from your system will be intercepted. This extreme level of user tracking is done with little and inconspicuous notice about the true nature of the software. In fact, while registering to join the "community," very little mention is made of software or tracking. Furthermore, after the software is installed, there is no indication on the desktop that the proxy exists on the system, so users are tracked silently.
Here is a summary of what the software does and how it is used. The proxy:
- Monitors and transmits a copy of all Internet traffic going from and coming to the compromised system.
- Monitors secure sessions (websites beginning with ‘https'), which may include shopping or banking sites.
- Records and transmits "the pace and style with which you enter information online..."
- Parses the header section of personal emails.
- May combine any data intercepted with additional information like "select credit bureau information" and other sources like "consumer preference reporting companies or credit reporting agencies".
If a kid with a scary hacker name did this sort of thing, he'd be arrested. But this is Sears, so who knows what will happen to them. But what should happen is that the anti-spyware companies should treat this as the malware it is, and not ignore it because it's done by a Fortune 500 company.
Posted on January 3, 2008 at 11:02 AM • 91 Comments