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Fake Firefox site bundles undead adware

Zango crapware rises from the grave

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Adware slingers have taken advantage of the buzz around the latest version of Firefox to establish a fake browser download site.

The counterfeit Firefox download site is disguised as a kosher browser download site and might easily fool the unwary. A closer look, however, reveals the version of Firefox on offer is version 3.5 (instead of the latest 3.6 version supplied by Mozilla). In addition, terms such as "Anti-Pishing" (sic) are misspelled on the glossy counterfeit download site.

Web users taken in by the scam will wind up downloading browser software contaminated with the Hotbar toolbar from Pinball Corp, formerly Zango. The software bombards marks with irksome pop-up ads while also further slowing performance by loading the Hotbar weather application in the system tray.

Security firm eSoft, which documents the risk here, reckons that the ruse is more likely the brainchild of a rogue Pinball agent rather than the firm itself. Pinball rewards its pay-per-install affiliate with up to $1.45 per install, eSoft adds.

Users looking to get the latest version of Firefox are advised to go to Mozilla's getfirefox.com site. eSoft has blocked access to the fake site for users of its technology. Other vendors can be expected to follow suit.

Zango was repeatedly obliged to defend itself against accusations that its ad-serving software was distributed without the informed consent of users. Security firms routinely categorised Zango's software as adware, sparking unsuccessful lawsuits against Kaspersky Lab and PC Tools in 2007. Its PR staff tenaciously held the line that any problems were down to rogue affiliates, which it was in the process of culling even before it paid the FTC to settle a privacy lawsuit back in 2006.

However its chief tormentors - Ben Edelman, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School, and Chris Boyd, former security researcher at Facetime Security - continued to document evidence of malpractice by Zango years after the FTC settlement. Zango went titsup last April, but its Hotbar technology lingers on the interwebs, as evidenced by the fake Firefox download ruse. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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