Feeds

Microsoft's search excels in spreading malware

Easily beats out Google and Yahoo!

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Everybody knows that Windows Live Search, Microsoft's little search engine that could, lags far behind Google and Yahoo! in the race to capture eyeballs. Here's one place where the software juggernaut's offering leads the pack: referrals for sites that actively try to infect end users' machines with some of the vilest malware known to man.

To see for yourself, type "veicolo commerciale noleggio" into Live.com and watch what gets returned. The first result (at the time of writing, anyway) is for a site at b9n3q3.info/yb6u46p76.html, which uses a Javascript to redirect users to another site. This second site actively tries to install several varieties of malware, in some cases the nasty Trojan known as Rustock. This return is just one of many malicious referrals Live.com makes when entering the above search term, which is Italian for "commercial vehicle rental."

According to researchers at Sunbelt-Software, Live.com's affair with malicious sites runs so torrid that malware-related returns on the search engine number in the thousands. Terms that trigger similar results tend to be Italian phrases, including, to name a few, "adsl offerta toscana," "istituto geografico italiano," "dvd da scaricare" and "testi reggae." Sunbelt blogged here about the sludge fest two weeks ago, but Live.com has continued to spew the noxious results unabated. Google and Yahoo long ago managed to filter most of the same sites from their returns.

"I don't think it was very responsible to keep these malware sites up for so long," says Francesco Benedini, a spyware researcher at Sunbelt. "I'm not saying Google and Yahoo! don't have a problem, but it's much more invasive on Live.com."

A Microsoft representative says in a statement that "to the extent that spammers are successful in essentially manipulating results, they will hurt the user experience on all search engines".

That left us scratching our heads for a couple reasons. For one, the same search terms don't appear to generate malicious returns on Google or Yahoo!, so how can the rep claim this is an industry-wide problem? And for another, what does spam have to do with this? We're wondering if our inquiry got mixed up with someone else's.

Some of the crud being returned on Live.com is sneakier than others. Many returned links, for instance one at www.lassi.com.es, don't attempt to infect PCs using a US-based IP address. Machines with IP addresses from Italy and possibly elsewhere are not so fortunate.

This isn't the first time Microsoft's net properties have dished up unsavory offerings. Last month the company admitted its Windows Live Messenger client displayed banner ads promoting an application blacklisted as a security risk. Shortly after Microsoft made the admission, MSN Groups was caught displaying ads for a separate piece of software widely regarded as rogue. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.