Lenovo Ordered to Pay $3.5M Fine for Superfish Software
The FTC and Lenovo have reached a settlement of $3.5 million, as a direct result of the company allowing potentially malicious software to be installed on new PCs without the user’s knowledge. From 2014 to 2015, as many as 750,000 new Lenovo computers came with VisualDiscovery pre-installed. The software was a legitimate product created by the California-based software company, Superfish. VisualDiscovery created pop-up ads when users hovered over similar objects on websites. The FTC confirmed the software collected data on website traffic. However, they also believed all of the user’s personal information that was transmitted online was also compromised. This could include the user’s date of birth, social security number, banking information, login credentials, etc.
Lenovo disagrees with the FTC’s claims. Although, they said they were pleased the issue is resolved. The $3.5 million fine will be distributed to the 32 states that were a part of the lawsuit.
Beyond paying the fine, different conditions were put into place regarding Lenovo’s business practices. USA Today reports,
“As part of the settlement, Lenovo must now get consumers’ permission before pre-installing any software that injects advertising into consumers’ Internet browsing sessions or that transmits sensitive information from their systems to third parties. Lenovo must also implement a comprehensive software security program to test all software the comes preloaded onto its laptops, and that security program will be subject to third-party audits.”
What to users should do now…
If you purchased a Lenovo PC in 2014 or 2015, VisualDiscovery has likely already been removed. Most security solutions have disabled the software from executing. However, if you have PC Matic, you were never at risk because VisualDiscovery was never a whitelisted program. Therefore, even if you had a PC with the software installed, it could not run to collect any user data. If are uncertain if your security program has removed the software, you may reach out to their support team for further inquiries.