Feeds

Alternative browser spyware infects IE

Backdoor attack

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Some useful citizen has created an installer that will nail IE with spyware, even if a surfer is using Firefox (or another alternative browser) or has blocked access to the malicious site in IE beforehand. The technique allows a raft of spyware to be served up to Windows users in spite of any security measures that might be in place.

Christopher Boyd, a security researchers at Vitalsecurity.org, said the malware installer was capable of working on a range of browsers with native Java support. "The spyware installer is a Java applet powered by the Sun Java Runtime Environment, which allows them to whack most browsers out there, including Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape and others. In the original test, only Opera and Netcaptor didn't fall for the install but Daniel Veditz, who is the head of Mozilla security, has since confirmed to me that this will also work in Opera and Netcaptor," he explained.

In the example Boyd highlights surfers looking for Neil Diamond lyrics (of all things) are served with a variety of adware and spyware packages including Internet Optimizer, sais (180 Solutions) and Avenue Media. Thereafter, if victims allow the packages to install, victims will be bombarded with pop-up ads and their computer will be reduced to a crawl. The malware doesn't install automatically but managed web security firm ScanSafe reckons the pop-up dialogue it generates is obscure enough to fool most home users.

Alternative browser adware risk

ScanSafe reports an increase in spyware of 15 per cent over the last three months of 2004 compared to the previous quarter. Adware accounted for three of the top 10 most prolific threats recorded by ScanSafe over Q4 2004. Spyware authors have thus far restricted themselves to targeting vulnerabilities in IE but ScanSafe reckons it’s only a matter of time before they turn their attention towards alternative browsers.

John Edwards, CTO of ScanSafe, said that some users migrated away from IE to alternative browsers such as Firefox after various security scares last year. He cited figures from Secunia that Firefox and IE were both subject to five advisories in the first two months of this year to support his argument that Firefox was not "bullet-proof".

"Just switching away from IE does not give adequate projection. Now that Firefox and other alternative browsers have a toehold in the market the hacking community will get busy exploiting the vulnerabilities that exist in any complex browser," he said. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.