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Zombie browser with evil past returns from the grave

Regular and 'adult' versions promise to keep viruses from 'breeding'

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A rogue browser package has re-appeared online years after security researchers thought it was gone for good.

Yapbrowser first appeared in 2006, inciting marks to use what was touted as a full-function web browser client. In reality, the software was jammed packed with adware from notorious (now defunct) outfit Zango. Users attempting to visit any site using the browser were directed to a porn domain, as security watchers warned at the time.

Browser downloads were pulled shortly after the domain in question started featuring child abuse images. Weeks later Yapbrowser reappeared with claims it offered "full protection from virus attacks". That eye-opening assertion was never substantiated and the browser, and its associated domain, disappeared shortly after it was acquired by a firm called SearchWebMe in June 2006. SearchWebMe never did much with the software and all the Yap domains were soon either dead or serving up generic advertisements.

Fast-forward five years and the Yapbrowser domain has now reappeared, offering what appears to be a 2006 vintage edition of Yapbrowser, marketing it using the same overblown security claims that first appeared half a decade ago. The reappearance of the download was spotted by security researcher Chris Boyd (AKA Paperghost) of GFI Software while he was researching a presentation on browser rogues for the VirusBulletin Conference last week. Boyd was shocked to discover the reappearance of the software, which he had thought was long dead.

"Not only is there a '2011' notice at the bottom, there's a link to the Yapbrowser executable. The file appears to be the original from 2006, the EULA looks identical (to the extent it lists 'yapbrowserATyapsearchDOTcom' as a contact, despite the fact that domain is long dead) and when fired up on a testbox it currently takes the end-user to Yapsearch, which is parked," Boyd explained.

"Not only does it appear to be the same old file, the website blurb also makes the same ludicrous promises of security which are optimistic by any stretch of the imagination," he adds.

Yapbrowser is being offered in two flavours: a regular and an "adult" version, both of which are offered at no charge alongside claims that "Your computer will be free from viruses breeding online" and "There is a 100% guarantee no system infection will occur when using our software".

Both versions of the software can be downloaded via a site called filesurfing(dot)com, which offers to hunt content from download sites such as Rapidshare and Mediafire.

Boyd said surfers would be well advised to stay well clear of the Yapbrowser application in favour of established browsers. "Seeing this site lurch back into life, looking identical to how it did back in 2006 and with the browser download following close behind is quite a shock," he writes. "I imagine anyone else who researched this one will be feeling much the same, and given the history of this program coupled with the (still) nonsensical claims of security and virus evasion it would be quite the leap of faith to want to download and use this program."

Boyd has a full write-up of the history and reappearance of Yapbrowser – complete with screenshots – in a blog post here.

The Yapbrowser.com domain in registered to Chris Phillips in Harringay. "Chris Phillips" is named on the searchwebme site. We left messages on a phone number associated with the registration but were unable to confirm whether the two were the same by the time of publication. ®

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