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Anatomy of a malware scam

The evil genius of XP Antivirus 2008

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Workflow Step By Step

At this point I was sufficiently curious to walk through the work-flow step by step. You may enjoy what I discovered. Starting from the beginning, when I first went to www.msn-us.info I received the warning in Figure 2.

Figure 2 Initial warning

It is quite nice of them to warn me about malware. It's also nice that they are offering to solve all my problems for free. Note also that I repositioned the dialogs in Figure 2 so you can better see what is happening. Without doing that the very small web browser window is actually hidden behind the dialog to make it look as if the dialog is coming from your computer, not a web page. If you click "OK" in figure 2, you get figure 3. If you click cancel, it just goes directly to a download for a fake anti-malware program.

Figure 3 The malware is independently certified

The warning in figure 3 just lets you know that you are about to download something. Obviously the criminals are well aware that users are incredibly desensitized to warnings and the more warnings they get, the less they pay attention to them. Click OK in that warning, and you get the page in Figure 4.

Figure 4 Fake Scan Results

Figure 4 is the same as Figure 1, but this time with the proper chrome as this virtual machine was running Windows XP. It turns out that the malware actually failed to install on Windows Vista (no, I did not file a bug with the authors to get that fixed), so I went back to Windows XP for my testing.

The page in Figure 4 is mostly just a composite of several images. The scan itself is a javascript that draws the progress bar. The file list that it iterates through when it performs the fake scan is a list of 1,100 names in a file called fileslist.js. That file also contains the 14 fake pieces of malware that it "discovers."

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