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Virus writers have created a malicious tool capable of automating the publication of spam and links to sites hosting malware on forums and blogs.

XRumer dumbs down the process of posting so-called blog spam. Blog spam has been used as a tactic by penis pill purveyors and others to attract attention and (occasionally) boost search engine rankings. Virus writers picked up the tactic to encourage more punters to visit sites hosting malware.

Up to now the approach has required a modicum of programming skills. The arrival of Xrumer dumbs down the process.

Now even the most clueless newbie can spamvertise their wares for around $450 via various underground forums and websites. According to its creator, XRumer can post over 1,100 comments in less than 15 minutes.

Blogs and forums often contain security measures such as captcha (number and letter codes used to check registration is carried out by a person), or blocking of suspicious IP addresses to avoid automatic registration via robots. XRumer, however, is designed to bypass such security measures. It can recognise text included in several image types, and it contains a long list of computers whose IP address can be used as proxies.

Cyber-crooks first need to specify the message and link they want XRumer to post on different forums, as well as the (false) user name and email address to use in these postings. Then they need to search the net for blogs or forums that allow visitors to add their comments. Miscreants usually use Hrefer (a tool costing around $50) to automate this process.

XRumer can publish comments on sites created by phpBB, PHP-Nuke (with some modification), yaBB, VBulletin, Invision Power Board, IconBoard, UltimateBB, exBB, and phorum.org. Usually, the spam message contains a link to pages infected with malware, although the tool can also be used to advertise websites through spam.

"The success of blogs, forums, etc, has not gone unnoticed to cyber crooks, who use them to try to infect as many people as possible," said Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs. ®

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