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Energizer battery rechargers still haunted by trojan backdoor

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"It keeps going and going and going" may be the slogan coined for Energizer batteries, but the same holds true for a nasty trojan backdoor that mysteriously slipped into software used to monitor rechargeable versions of the product.

Almost two weeks after a red-faced Energizer admitted its Duo USB battery charger installed a data-stealing backdoor on users' PCs, the file that spreads the infection was still being distributed Wednesday evening on a European site operated by the consumer-products company.

According to this VirusTotal analysis, UsbCharger_setup_V1_1_1.exe is flagged as malicious by 24 of the 42 leading anti-virus firms. To make sure it wasn't a false positive, The Register checked with anti-virus firms Immunet and Trend Micro, both of which said the infection is real.

Contrary to the VirusTotal results, the threat is also flagged by Symantec's Norton AV app, Immunet added. Trend Micro Senior Threat Researcher Paul Ferguson said his company's AV product also protects against it by flagging a key dll file, rather than the executable file.

Microsoft labels the trojan as Arurizer.A and warns that it installs a backdoor on user machines that allows attackers to upload, download, and delete files at will, install additional malware and carry out other nefarious deeds.

Twelve days ago, Energizer pledged to mount an investigation into how such a gaffe could have happened. The company has yet to release the results of that probe. Details that would be particularly useful include how long the malicious file has been available, how many of its customers may have been infected, and whether the company has hired an outside security firm to scan for such threats.

The public should hold Energizer accountable for that information. But first it ought to demand that the company conduct a top-to-bottom scan of every web property it owns for any signs of additional malware. And while customers are at it, they may want to ask themselves: Do you really want to trust the security of your PC to a battery maker?

Sometimes, the low-tech - or no-tech - solution is the way to go. ®

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