Feeds

Silence and 'scareware' epidemic at MySpace

MyScare the Microsoft of Web 2.0?

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Comment MySpace's immense popularity appears to have handed the social networking site an unwanted role as a clearinghouse for Web 2.0 naughties.

The Register has uncovered a third dose of "Myscareware" trying to make its way onto users' machines for file infection. Beyond freaking out plenty of teenagers and excitable men, the software cruft has pushed MySpace one step closer to inheriting the security laggard crown from Microsoft.

Earlier this week, we highlighted a nasty scareware twosome where MySpace heaved up banner ads from AntiVirus Pro and DriveCleaner that attempted to install executable files on users' computers. Following the story's publication, numerous readers complained about the scareware pain. One reader even turned up a third questionable software load in the form of a program called ErrorSafe.

(Readers can alert us to their experiences with MySpace or other mainstream sites serving ads for badware or other pesky products by contacting this reporter at the link above.)

This latest entrant, as a screen shot appears to show, attempts to install a file called ErrorSafeNewReleaseInstall.exe on the user's computer (a Mac, no less!), and when the user refuses the offer, a pop-up repeatedly begs him to change his mind. (Readers on a MySpace related forum complained about the problem as long ago as last May.)

With 90 million accounts, MySpace is emerging as an appealing target of miscreants, second only to Microsoft, in our estimation. And like the software giant during the late 1990s, MySpace's reaction has been to deflect critics rather than learn from them.

Screen grab of scareware on user's Apple

A MySpace spokeswoman, who despite her title said she's not permitted to be cited by name, emphasized that malware violates the site's terms of service and that a dedicated security team works 24/7 to stamp out offenders. She also said the same offending ads are being served to thousands of other Web sites through the same ad networks MySpace uses.

This isn't the first time MySpace PR has used the tactic of blaming others to account for the exploits hosted on the pages it controls. Last month - after the site spread a worm exploiting an embedded QuickTime player - MySpace blamed the attack on the insecurity of Apple's software.

The company has been less than transparent in responding to other exploits, which include serving banner ads that infected millions of users with adware and a phishing attack that targeted music fans. The usual response is for the company to issue a press release and be done with it.

To be fair, MySpace, with more than 119.5bn ad impressions in Q4, serves more marketing mush than most sites. Monitoring a bushel that big for a handful of rotten tomatoes is no trivial task. Add to that the arms-length way that ad networks operate and the decentralization that comes from relying on tens of millions of users to generate content.

Isn't Web 2.0 wonderful?

So far MySpace has passed on requests to lay out its network security plan. As the number of breaches grows, that's creating dissent among the ranks.

"I have said this many times, but I strongly recommend that MySpace be blocked on your networks," writes Sandi Hardmeier, a consultant under Microsoft's most valuable professional program, on her blog. "Don't let your kids go there. Don't let your employees go there. It simply isn't safe."

Pot, meet kettle, perhaps.

The last thing a hip, webby company such as MySpace can want is to look like a slow-moving technology curmudgeon. Such a reputation does not vanish at internet speed – just ask Redmond. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Google recommends pronounceable passwords
Super Chrome goes into battle with Mr Mxyzptlk
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Reddit wipes clean leaked celeb nudie pics, tells users to zip it
Now we've had all THAT TRAFFIC, we 'deplore' this theft
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
TorrentLocker unpicked: Crypto coding shocker defeats extortionists
Lousy XOR opens door into which victims can shove a foot
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.