Feeds

Rogue AV pimps finally show love for alternative browsers

Ruse spoofs Firefox, Chrome, Safari

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

For years, ads pimping malware disguised as legitimate antivirus programs have gone to great lengths to mimic the look and feel of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser and Windows operating system. Now Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari are getting the same treatment.

A security researcher from Zscaler has recently uncovered a campaign that's tailored to the browser that the intended victim is using. Those with IE will see the same tired graphic depicting a Windows 7 security alert, but look what happens when the visitor is using Firefox.

Screen capture of Rogue AV ad spoofing Firefox

Not only does the image contain internal Firefox elements in the source code, it also spoofs the security warning the browser shows when users attempt to navigate to an address known to be malicious, said Julien Sobrier, a senior security researcher at Zscaler.

When the intended mark visits the page with Chrome, the ruse looks altogether different. The first screen shows a warning window bearing the browser's distinctive logo and the words “Chrome Security has found critical process activity on your system and will perform fast scan of system files.”

Screen capture of Rogue AV ad spoofing Google Chrome

The user then sees what purports to be a Chrome window showing a virus scan.

Screen capture of Rogue AV ad spoofing Google Chrome

Not to be left out, Safari is also spoofed, although with significantly less effort. The initial warning looks like this:

Screen capture of Rogue AV ad spoofing Apple Safari

But the scan page defaults to the look and feel of IE.

The ads are an attempt to trick visitors into believing they have infections that can be cured by the software being offered in the ad. By customizing the screens to the browser, it stands to reason, malware mongers stand a better chance of succeeding.

“I've seen malicious pages tailored in the past, but they were mostly fake Flash updates or fake codec upgrades for Internet Explorer and Firefox,” Sobrier wrote in an email. “I've never seen targeted fake AV pages for so many different browsers.”

Some of the sites that redirect to the scam include columbia.faircitynews.com, www.troop391.org, jmvcorp.com. When successful, the redirected page pushes the file InstallInternetDefender_xxx.exe, where “xxx” is a number that changes frequently. At time of writing, it was detected as malicious by just 9.5 percent of the major (legitimate) AV packages, according to a VirusTotal scan.

No doubt, Reg readers are savvy enough to spot scams like this, but what about poor Aunt Mildred, who has being told by a well-meaning relative to never, ever use the heavily targeted IE? Makes you realize why fake AV can be such a huge revenue generator.

Sobrier, who blogged about his findings here, first spotted the customized ads on Monday. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.