A Nevada company will pay US$330,000 to settle a complaint from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that it hid spyware in other software consumers could download for free, the FTC announced Monday.

The FTC accused ERG Ventures LLC of distributing spyware that infected 15 million computers. The company tricked consumers into downloading spyware by hiding the Media Motor program in other downloads for other software, including screensavers and video files, the FTC said in an October 2006 complaint.

Media Motor, once downloaded, added software that changed consumers’ home pages, tracked their Internet activity, altered browser settings, degraded computer performance and disabled antispyware and antivirus software, the FTC said. Much of the malware installed by the Media Motor program was extremely difficult or impossible for consumers to remove from their computers, the agency said.

continued @ [PCWorld]