Feeds

MSN punts 'scareware'

Rogue banner ads pulled

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Updated Microsoft has admitted its Windows Live Messenger client displayed banner ads for several days punting an application blacklisted as a security risk. Shortly after Microsoft made the admission, other outlets reported that MSN Groups displayed ads for a separate piece of software widely regarded as rogue.

Redmond has pulled the ads for Errorsafe, a purported security product labeled by legitimate firms as "scareware" designed to frighten users into buying a product that actually impairs internet safety. Redmond has promised to review its advertisement approval process in order to prevent the problem cropping up again.

For a period earlier this week, Errorsafe, which is listed as a security risk alongside related packages such as Winfixer, appeared as a banner ad inside Windows Live Messenger.

Worse still, pop-up ads punting the product were served to users running Windows Live Messenger. These pop-up ads appeared without user interaction. Clicking on the OK or Cancel buttons in this pop-up window would have resulted in an attempt to download a malicious ActiveX control without a user's permission.

In another incident involving rogue software, Microsoft has also apologized after its MSN Groups was caught serving ads hawking SystemDoctor2006, according to APC Mag.

The Microsoft-distributed ads give a veneer of legitimacy to packages that advise surfers they are infected with spyware, whether they are or not, in an attempt to hoodwink users into buying ineffective software.

"We immediately investigated the reports and removed the offending ads, as this is a violation of our ad-serving policy," Microsoft spokeswoman Whitney Burk told IDG.

The incident is the second time adverts for potentially unwanted programs have made their way onto the ad serving networks servicing well-known internet brands over recent weeks. MySpace served up banner ads for AntiVirus Pro and DriveCleaner, other so-called security packages that offer nothing but misery for users, in January.

Sandi Hardmeier, a Microsoft Most Valued Professional who was the first to document the Errorsafe on Messenger threat, said Microsoft has let itself and its users badly down over failing to block the offending ads.

"For years I have been holding up MSN Messenger banner advertisements as an example of how advertisements can be safely served up to end users without putting them at risk of malware," she writes on her Spyware Sucks blog.

"Now, everything has changed. Users have been put at direct risk through no fault of their own and they can't avoid the MSN banner advertisements when the contact pane is open without using a third party hack that is ethically wrong to use." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat
'Sophisticated' spies, DIY tech and a TROLL ARMY – report
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.