June 6th, 08

Banking giant ING looks for better online security to protect customer transactions.

May 26th, 08

Half A Million Computer Users Duped Into Downloading Spyware With Booby-Trapped Music & Movie Files

May 8th, 08

Internet provider admits installing spyware on customers' computers.

May 1st, 08

System Doctor creator Ron Cooke faces charges.

April 25th, 08

New Phishing Scam targets Paypal users.

Technology News

Half A Million Computer Users Duped Into Downloading Spyware With Booby-Trapped Music & Movie Files

Recently McAfee security analysts discovered that more than 500,000 computer users had been fooled into downloading an awful spyware program that bombards their PC’s with pop-up ads and adware. Those who downloaded the spyware actually thought they were downloading movie and music files through popular file-sharing networks such as LimeWire and eDonkey.  A strategist for McAfee, Toralv Dirro, noted that this spyware file caused the worst outbreak he had seen in at least the last three years.

The spyware program works by acting as a standard media file download and piggybacks popular movie and music files. Instead of receiving the media the computer user expected however, the PC becomes infected with a hidden program which gathers information to deliver uncontrollable pop-up ads. Additionally, the spyware causes risks to the safety and security of the user’s computer. The file has been spotted with many different names and is written in multiple languages to dupe people into executing the download. The people who chose to download the file were also asked to install a fake mp3 media player as a bundle to be able to listen to or view their media file. The info for the mp3 media player download made it seem as if it was the only compatible player for these types of media files. The irony of this bad program is that with the installation of the fake mp3 media player which takes up a lot of computer space, the spyware actually claims to not display pop-up ads and to actually block them from your pc! Meanwhile users are plagued with adware, pop-ups, and pop-unders.

McAfee recommends that PC users take the time to update their current security software and to be extremely wary about using file-sharing networks due to the fact that the websites are popular places for spyware and malware to be distributed by malicious programmers. McAfee stated that only Windows users are vulnerable to the spyware program. Other security companies have admitted to seeing this version of spyware also, but not in such large quantities.

Computer users who choose to participate with file-sharing network websites are not only at risk for spyware and malware, but are also a target for media companies who try to catch those who are downloading illegal files in the act. This particular spyware, however, was said to most likely come from an advertiser affiliate program that benefits by collecting profits each time the files are installed on a user’s PC.

Even security companies such as McAfee are unable to determine who infected the system with the spyware. Dirro pointed out that the information is extremely difficult to obtain and that fortunately the program was relatively benign. The company worries, however, that other malicious software programmers will use the same type of program and technology to distribute a much more damaging type of spyware or malware and that this may be just the beginning of a bigger problem.