Feeds

Security consultant's blog found pushing crudware

A warning for us all

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

A prominent IT security consultant has issued a mea culpa after learning a blog he set up on Blogspot and later abandoned is being used to push crudware.

"If I'm supposed to know what I'm doing, what about the 299 million people out there who don't know better?" said Winn Schwartau, an expert in information warfare and computer security education, when asked why his old security blog, SecurityAwareness, tries to trick visitors into installing crudware called Malware Alarm. "I'd rather cop to it and say I got nailed. We all screw up."

The incident is a cautionary tale for anyone who has ever kept a blog or website and then decided to pull the plug. Schwartau had ditched the Blogspot address for a new URL that was linked to the website of The Security Awareness Company, a business he runs.

A spokeswoman for Google, which runs Blogspot, said when the URL was retired, it went back into regular rotation, meaning it was available for the first person to request it. The new owner, evidently, is responsible for the content that warns users they may have malware and invites them to download Malware Alarm.

"This is more a case of 'URL squatting' and not a security issue," the Google spokeswoman said in an email.

Whatever you call it, the case should be a wakeup call for those retiring web names that are closely linked to a business or person. Simply allowing it back into general circulation could allow some of the net's creepier elements to capitalize on a lot of goodwill.

According to some security vendors, Malware Alarm's free software gives bogus security warnings designed to con end users into buying a premium version of the program that promises to rid machines of supposed infections. The software has been reported to flag common Windows files and innocuous programs as malware.

According to screenshots posted on the SunbeltBLOG, those visiting Winn's site received a pop-up warning their machine could be infected. When the Sunbelt blogger took the bait and clicked through, the Malware Alarm site issued another popup warning that the machine - running OS X, no less - was "infected with spyware!" It then urged the user to download the Malware Alarm scareware.

Our own visits on Wednesday afternoon California time - using machines running both Windows and OS X - showed the Blogspot site was continuing to promote the deceptive antispyware program. (In a previous version of this story, we incorrectly reported Google had removed the site within hours of it coming to light.)

This isn't the first time Blogspot has been used by scammers. In March, Blogger.com, Google's other web publishing system, was found to be hosting hundreds of blogs that sent visitors to phishing sites.

The moral of the story: even the paranoid among us make security mistakes. Now if you'll excuse us, we're off to check on a few domain names we registered during our indiscreet youth. ®

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
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
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
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
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
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.
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.