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Vulnerabilities / Threats

Is Sears Sending Spyware to Customers?

Researcher says Sears and Kmart don't give enough information about app that tracks browsing activity

Two researchers say Sears is loading spyware onto customers' computers without providing adequate notice or explanation.

A report published yesterday by Ben Edelman, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, indicates that the retail giant is violating Federal Trade Commission policies in its distribution of ComScore, an application that tracks Web browsing activity.

Edelman's critique confirms a report published in late December by Benjamin Googins, a researcher at Computer Associates.

Both researchers offer detailed looks at My SHC Community, a Website operated by the Sears Holding Company for both Sears and Kmart. They show how the community's users might be easily misled into loading spyware they don't want on their computers, because the site does not adequately explain it or give proper procedures to decline it.

"The limited notice provided falls far short of the standards the FTC has established," Edelman says. "Sears' claims of adequate notice are demonstrably false."

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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