Feeds

Viral marketing adds a taste of spam to your mail

Benign Active-X trojan secretly alters your signature

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.