Mozilla sends cease and desist to surveillance software maker

Mozilla has sent a cease and desist letter to the maker of surveillance software that identifies itself as Firefox when running on a victim's system.

Mozilla, the company behind the open source Firefox web browser, said it has sent a cease and desist letter to Gamma International demanding it stops distributing surveillance software that tricks people into thinking it is related to the Firefox web browser running on their system.

According to a post on the Mozilla blog, a recent report from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab found commercial surveillance software produced by Gamma International was "designed to trick people into thinking it's Mozilla Firefox".

"As an open source project trusted by hundreds of millions of people around the world, defending Mozilla's trademarks from this type of abuse is vital to our brand, our users and the continued success of our mission," Alex Fowler, head of privacy and public policy for Mozilla, said in the blog post on Tuesday.

"Through the work of the Citizen Lab research team, we believe Gamma's spyware tries to give users the false impression that, as a program installed on their computer or mobile device, it's related to Mozilla and Firefox, and is thus trustworthy both technically and in its content," he added.

As well as identifying its own processes as 'Firefox.exe', the software also uses properties associated with Firefox including a version number and copyright and trademark claims information attributed to "Firefox and Mozilla Developers", Mozilla said.

Gamma Group, the company behind Gamma International, had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.