Feeds

Viral marketing adds a taste of spam to your mail

Benign Active-X trojan secretly alters your signature

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

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. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft exits climate denier lobby group
ALEC will have to do without Redmond, it seems
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?