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Genica Corporation and Compgeeks.com; Analysis of Proposed Consent Order to Aid Public Comment

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION:

Proposed Consent Agreement.

SUMMARY:

The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices or unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft complaint and the terms of the consent order—embodied in the consent agreement—that would settle these allegations.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before March 9, 2009.

ADDRESSES:

Interested parties are invited to submit written comments. Comments should refer to “Genica Corporation, File No. 082 3113,” to facilitate the organization of comments. A comment filed in paper form should include this reference both in the text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to the following address: Federal Trade Commission/Office of the Secretary, Room 135-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Comments containing confidential material must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled “Confidential,” and must comply with Commission Rule 4.9(c). 16 CFR 4.9(c) (2005).1 The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions. Comments that do not contain any nonpublic information may instead be filed in electronic form by Start Printed Page 6628following the instructions on the web-based form at (http://secure.commentworks.com/​ftc-Genica). To ensure that the Commission considers an electronic comment, you must file it on that web-based form.

The FTC Act and other laws the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. All timely and responsive public comments, whether filed in paper or electronic form, will be considered by the Commission, and will be available to the public on the FTC website, to the extent practicable, at www.ftc.gov. As a matter of discretion, the FTC makes every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from the public comments it receives before placing those comments on the FTC website. More information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, may be found in the FTC's privacy policy, at (http://www.ftc.gov/​ftc/​privacy.shtm).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Molly Crawford, Bureau of Coonsumer Protection, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20580, (202) 326-2252.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Pursuant to section 6(f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 721, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and § 2.34 of the Commission Rules of Practice, 16 CFR 2.34, notice is hereby given that the above-captioned consent agreement containing a consent order to cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page (for February 5, 2009), on the World Wide Web, at (http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​2009/​02/​index.htm). A paper copy can be obtained from the FTC Public Reference Room, Room 130-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-2222.

Public comments are invited, and may be filed with the Commission in either paper or electronic form. All comments should be filed as prescribed in the ADDRESSES section above, and must be received on or before the date specified in the DATES section.

Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order to Aid Public Comment

The Federal Trade Commission has accepted, subject to final approval, a consent agreement from Genica Corporation (“Genica”) and Compgeeks.com, also doing business as Computer Geeks Discount Outlet and Geeks.com (“Compgeeks.com”).

The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for thirty (30) days for receipt of comments by interested persons. Comments received during this period will become part of the public record. After thirty (30) days, the Commission will again review the agreement and the comments received, and will decide whether it should withdraw from the agreement and take appropriate action or make final the agreement’s proposed order.

Genica and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Compgeeks.com, (collectively “respondents”) sell computer systems, peripherals, and consumer electronics to consumers over the internet, including through a website (www.geeks.com) operated by Compgeeks.com. Respondents operate a computer network that consumers use, in conjunction with the www.geeks.com website and web application, to obtain information and to buy their products. In selling products through the www.geeks.com website, respondents routinely collect sensitive information from consumers to obtain authorization for credit card purchases, including a first and last name, address, e-mail address, telephone number, credit card number, credit card expiration date, and credit card security code (hereinafter “personal information”). This information is particularly sensitive, because it can be used to facilitate payment card fraud and other consumer harm. This matter concerns alleged false or misleading representations respondents made about the security they provided for this information.

The Commission’s complaint alleges that respondents represented that they implemented reasonable and appropriate security measures to protect the privacy and confidentiality of personal information. The complaint alleges that this representation was false because respondents engaged in a number of practices that, taken together, failed to provide reasonable and appropriate security for sensitive personal information stored on their network. Among other things, respondents allegedly: (1) stored personal information in clear, readable text; (2) did not adequately assess the vulnerability of their web application and network to commonly known or reasonably foreseeable attacks, such as “Structured Query Language” (“SQL”) injection attacks; (3) did not implement simple, free or low-cost, and readily available defenses to such attacks; (4) did not use readily available security measures to monitor and control connections between computers on the network and from the network to the internet; and (5) failed to employ reasonable measures to detect and prevent unauthorized access to personal information, such as by logging or employing an intrusion detection system.

The complaint further alleges that since at least January 2007 and continuing through at least June 2007, hackers repeatedly exploited these vulnerabilities by using SQL injection attacks on the www.geeks.com website and web application. Through these attacks, the hackers allegedly found personal information stored on respondents’ network and exported the information of hundreds of customers, including credit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes, over the internet to outside computers.

The proposed order applies to personal information respondents collect from or about consumers. It contains provisions designed to prevent respondents from engaging in the future in practices similar to those alleged in the complaint.

Part I of the proposed order prohibits respondents, in connection with the advertising, marketing, promotion, offering for sale, or sale of any product or service, from misrepresenting the extent to which respondents maintain and protect the privacy, confidentiality, or integrity of any personal information collected from or about consumers.

Part II of the proposed order requires respondents to establish and maintain a comprehensive information security program that is reasonably designed to protect the security, confidentiality, and integrity of personal information collected from or about consumers. The written security program must contain administrative, technical, and physical safeguards appropriate to respondents’ size and complexity, the nature and scope of respondents’ activities, and the sensitivity of the personal information collected from or about consumers. Specifically the order requires respondents to:

1. Designate an employee or employees to coordinate and be accountable for the information security program;

2. Identify material internal and external risks to the security, confidentiality, and integrity of personal information that could result in the Start Printed Page 6629unauthorized disclosure, misuse, loss, alteration, destruction, or other compromise of such information, and assess the sufficiency of any safeguards in place to control these risks;

3. Design and implement reasonable safeguards to control the risks identified through risk assessment, and regularly test or monitor the effectiveness of the safeguards’ key controls, systems, and procedures;

4. Develop and use reasonable steps to retain service providers capable of appropriately safeguarding personal information they receive from respondents and requiring service providers by contract to implement and maintain appropriate safeguards; and

5. Evaluate and adjust respondents’ information security program in light of the results of the testing and monitoring, any material changes to respondents’ operations or business arrangements, or any other circumstances that respondents know or have reason to know may have a material impact on the effectiveness of their information security program.

Part III of the proposed order requires that respondents, in connection with the online advertising, marketing, promotion, offering for sale, or sale of any product or service to consumers, obtain within 180 days, and on a biennial bases thereafter for a period of ten (10) years, an assessment and report from a qualified, objective, independent third-party professional, certifying, among other things, that respondents have in place a security program that provides protections that meet or exceed the protections required by Part II of the proposed order; and (2) respondents’ security program is operating with sufficient effectiveness to provide reasonable assurance that the security, confidentiality, and integrity of consumers’ personal information is protected.

Parts IV through VIII of the proposed order are reporting and compliance provisions. Part IV requires respondents to retain documents relating to their compliance with the order. For most records, the order requires that the documents be retained for a five-year period. For the third-party assessments and supporting documents, respondents must retain the documents for a period of three years after the date that each assessment is prepared. Part V requires dissemination of the order now and in the future to persons with responsibilities relating to the subject matter of the order. Part VI ensures notification to the FTC of changes in corporate status. Part VII mandates that respondents submit an initial compliance report to the FTC, and make available to the FTC subsequent reports. Part VIII is a provision “sunsetting” the order after twenty (20) years, with certain exceptions.

The purpose of the analysis is to aid public comment on the proposed order. It is not intended to constitute an official interpretation of the proposed order or to modify its terms in any way.

By direction of the Commission.

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Donald S. Clark

Secretary

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Footnotes

1. The comment must be accompanied by an explicit request for confidential treatment, including the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. The request will be granted or denied by the Commission’s General Counsel, consistent with applicable law and the public interest. See Commission Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

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[FR Doc. E9-2764 Filed 2-9-09: 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-S