Feeds

Viral marketing adds a taste of spam to your mail

Benign Active-X trojan secretly alters your signature

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
French 'terror law' declares WAR on the INTERNET itself, say digi-rights folks
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité: Two out of three ain't bad
SCREW YOU, EU: BBC rolls out Right To Remember as Google deletes links
Not even Google can withstand the power of Auntie
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
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?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.