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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.

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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)
Craig Ward
Craig Ward - News Editor
I grew up in a family surrounded by technology, starting with my father loading up games for me on a Commodore 64, and later on a 486. In the late 90's and early 00's I started learning how to tinker with Windows, while also playing around with Linux distributions, both of which gave me an interest for learning how to make software do what you want it to do, and modifying settings that aren't normally user accessible. After this I started building my own computers, and tearing laptops apart, which gave me an insight into hardware and how it works in a complete system. Now keeping up with the latest in hardware and software news is a passion of mine.