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Fiendish fake Flash plugin squirts grumble-flick ads into kiddies' websites

Browser nasty turns entire internet into no-go zone for children, the easily offended

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A fake Adobe Flash browser plugin that hijacks on-screen web adverts to tout hardcore smut is doing the rounds, we're told.

The rogue add-on even slaps racy adults-only teasers on websites aimed at children, according to Jérôme Segura, a security researcher at antivirus firm Malwarebytes. The software nasty, named FlashPlayer11.safariextz, poses as a "Flash Player update" and is largely distributed via X-rated web portals and grumble-flick sites.

The file is downloaded from fplcdn.com, a domain registered at the end of last month; the registrant's details in the WHOIS database appear to be fishy, said Segura. The Safari extension is also compatible with Firefox, Chrome and Safari but not Internet Explorer, according to tests by Malwarebytes.

"In addition to injecting adverts within every single page you visit, this malicious extension is capable of ‘hijacking’ legitimate ads and replacing them with its own," Segura explained. "With such invasive adverts, cyber-crooks are likely to generate a lot of ‘views’ and even pay per clicks."

Web surfers are urged to check the browser extensions installed on their computers, especially if they spot a serving of salacious plugs.

"If you believe you are seeing strange or inappropriate ads on the websites you regularly visit, it wouldn’t hurt checking the extensions installed in your browser and removing the offending ones," Segura advised, adding that netizens can avoid getting hit by the scam by taking care to install software updates from vendor’s official websites.

The Safari component of the extension was not detected as malicious by any of the antivirus vendors listed in VirusTotal at the time Segura uploaded it. However, the executable used to hijack rival browsers was detected.

A write-up of the threat, together with screenshots, can be found in a blog post by Malwarebytes here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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