Lenovo Settles With FTC for Selling Laptops Preinstalled With Adware

Lenovo agreed Tuesday to settle charges levied by the Federal Trade Commission for installing malicious software on some of its laptops so it could deliver ads to consumers.

The affected Lenovo laptops ran a preinstalled software program called VisualDiscovery, which acted as a “man in the middle” between consumers’ browsers and the websites they visited. The software was incredibly vulnerable from a security perspective, as it allowed hackers to collect social security numbers, medical information or logins, passwords with relative ease, the FTC said.

VisualDiscovery, which was developed by a company called SuperFish, delivered for products sold by Superfish’s retail partners whenever a user’s cursor hovered over an image of a similar product on a shopping website. Someone who scrolled over a Playstation 4 on Amazon, for example, would see ads on the same webpage for places they could purchase a Playstation 4 from SuperFish’s retail partners. Such practices are often labeled as “adware,” an ad-specific adaptation of “malware.”

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