Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mozilla Issued Cease And Desist Notice To Gamma International For Maliciously Using Its Brand and Reputation

E-surveillance can result in trademark infringement and brand violation. This sounds strange but recently this sort if case come to our knowledge. A report provided by Citizen Lab has disclosed this bizarre and criminal violation of Mozilla Firefox’s trademark and rights.

Media Law has discovered that commercial Spyware manufacturer Gamma International has been engaging in unethical behaviour by disguising and using its malware as Mozilla Firefox software. Naturally, users seeing the Mozilla Firefox files would neither doubt the integrity of that malicious file nor would they care to do a virus or malware scan upon assumed white listed and trusted software and its corresponding files.

This way the malware can remain undetected and it can keep on functioning illegally and unnoticed. The Spyware is known as FinFisher that has been openly abused by draconian and repressive governments around the world. These incidences reaffirm the commitment to ensure civil liberties protection in cyberspace.

Reacting sharply, Mozilla Firefox had sent Gamma a cease and desist letter demanding that these illegal practices stop immediately. Mozilla said that it cannot abide a software company using its name to disguise online surveillance tools that can be – and in several cases actually have been – used by Gamma’s customers to violate citizens’ human rights and online privacy.

The malware does not affect Firefox itself, either during the installation process or when it is operating covertly on a person’s computer or mobile device. Gamma’s software is entirely separate, and only uses Mozilla’s brand and trademarks to lie and mislead as one of its methods for avoiding detection and deletion.

To avoid detection from anti virus and anti malware softwares, Gamma misrepresents its program as “Firefox.exe” and includes the properties associated with Firefox along with a version number and copyright and trademark claims attributed to Firefox and Mozilla Developers. For an expert user who examines the underlying code of the installed spyware, Gamma includes verbatim the assembly manifest from Firefox software. This way it could remain undetected and keep on operating at the user’s computer.

This is a serious issue and Mozilla should take strict action against all those who are abusing its trademark and name to deliver malware. It is not only the legal but also the moral responsibility of Mozilla to keep its users safe from such malware and illegal and deceptive uses.