Feeds

Viral marketing adds a taste of spam to your mail

Benign Active-X trojan secretly alters your signature

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A Web portal called Gohip wishes to offer you a "free video browser enhancement" which does nothing to enhance your video viewing pleasure, but does secretly enable Gohip to advertise using your e-mail signature. Not exactly a threat, but certainly an annoyance. Call it 'viral marketing'.

The file is certified by a California "Internet trust services" outfit called VeriSign, which issues Web server certificates as well as billing and network security services. A pity they don't scan the files they certify for malicious code, but that's not their job. Certification simply means that the Web site offering the download is also its publisher.

Once the "enhancement" is accepted, an executable file named download.exe is copied to the system and executed automatically. In the Windows startup folder, a file named winstartup.exe is created which performs a re-installation of components each time Windows is booted.

The file's download and execution are handled by an Active-X script which effectively conceals these processes, even from advanced users.

The installation includes changing the user's default home page and search page to Gohip.com pages, and altering the user's default e-mail signature to this chirpy commercial message:

Click here for Free Video!!
http://www.gohip.com/freevideo/

Mail recipients who follow the link arrive at, you guessed it, the page where Gohip's "enhancement" is offered.

The malicious use of Active-X scripting is quite difficult to defend against. "Unless a user's security settings are set to high, it will run automatically," Finjian Software Marketing Director Dave Kroll told The Register.

"You can easily use Active-X to run a trojan," he added. "The Beauty of Java and Active-X is that their activities can be concealed even from anti-virus software."

"Your anti-virus program would probably not detect a trojan if it were compressed" and then expanded and launched via such a script, he warned.

We note that VeriSign's third-party certification enhances the 'social engineering' aspects of the package. Innocent users are likely to be persuaded that the file is being certified for safety.

"Digital certification isn't the answer," Kroll noted. "Certificates can be bogus....they're very generic and can easily be duplicated."

Victims who wish to remove the corruptions to their system can follow instructions graciously posted on Gohip's customer service page.

Further information is available from Web security outfit Finjian Software, which originally alerted us to this amusing new marketing ploy. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.