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Lenovo fined US$3.5 million for pre-installing adware on some laptops in 2015

Lenovo has been fined US$3.5 million and had restrictions placed on pre-installed software on their systems in the United States. (Source: Geralt/Pixabay)
Lenovo has been fined US$3.5 million and had restrictions placed on pre-installed software on their systems in the United States. (Source: Geralt/Pixabay)
The saga about some Lenovo laptops coming pre-installed with adware in 2015 has now come to an end with the results of their court case being announced a few hours ago. Lenovo must pay a fine of US$3.5 million and has had some restrictions placed on how they handle pre-installed software in the United States.

In 2015, Lenovo got themselves in hot water when pre-installed software on some of their laptops was classified as adware. The adware, called 'VisualDiscovery,' was meant to analyze what users were viewing on the web and then created a pop-up advert of similar products.

This distraction was bad enough for most people to complain about it, but it got even worse when the software was found to be performing a man-in-the-middle attack, which means that it was intercepting traffic by using itself as a relay. This practice meant that it was compromising security — even on secure connections — and it wasn’t long until a security researcher showed how it could potentially be used to spy on encrypted communication. Lenovo followed up by releasing a tool to uninstall the software properly.

The aftermath resulted in Lenovo being taken to court in the United States, with the announcement of a settlement a few hours ago stating that Lenovo must pay out US$3.5 million to a 32-state coalition. This amount is tiny for a company the size of Lenovo, but the message it sends to manufacturers about the care needed around pre-installed software is where the value lies. In addition, Lenovo was required to implement a software security program for software installed on their laptops for the next 20 years (in the US). Lenovo is also prohibited from misrepresenting the features of pre-installed software that could inject advertising or transmit user data to third parties.

Lenovo has never agreed that the software was performing a man-in-the-middle-attack or that it was compromising user’s security.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2017 09 > Lenovo fined US$3.5 million for pre-installing adware on some laptops in 2015
Craig Ward, 2017-09- 6 (Update: 2017-09- 6)