Feeds

Anatomy of a malware scam

The evil genius of XP Antivirus 2008

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The First Hint

The first thing a potential victim would do is open up one of the sites. For my tests I used www.msn-us.info. I did my initial test on Windows Vista. After various trickery, I got the dialog in figure 1.

Figure 1 The site issues a redirect to a different site

Notice the chrome in Internet Explorer. My virtual machine is running Windows Vista. The popup, however, has the XP chrome. As it turns out, the popup is not a popup at all. The whole page is just one image, hyperlinked to a file download. I must give the criminals here credit for graying out the background to lend it credibility; a la Vista User Account Control (UAC). One of the questionable benefits of UAC is that it has conditioned people to believe that as long as the screen background is grayed out they can trust whatever is on the screen.

Before the popup in the screen shot there was actually another one too. That one was an animated GIF that looked like it was performing a virus scan of your computer. Needless to say, it found several pieces of fake malware on my computer, hence the dire warning in the fake popup.

If this looks suspicious to you, it should. We are not on www.msn-us.info. We are on virus-securityscanner.com. When you go to any of the sites that are linked in the blog comments you download a few files, and then it redirects you to http://virus-securityscanner.com/2008/3/freescan.php?aid=880421, where the last part is some form of identifier that we will return to shortly.

Similar sites to this one have been reported at least as far back as 2003. The modus operandi does not change, although the exact details of what the sites do seem to. It appears likely that these sites are all related and that there are multiple fronts for them. Virus-securityscanner.com appears to be hosted at an ISP in Pennsylvania at the time of this writing, but that is likely to change by the time you read this. In fact, between the time I started researching this and the time I wrote the article, the site name had changed to virus-onlinescanner.com.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.