UK users get malware from bogus installs

Statistics suggest most of the malware is remarkably old, in some cases years old

Malware distributors are increasingly using "passing off" techniques to get their programs on to the PCs of UK-based users, new statistics from security vendor Webroot suggest.

The idea of passing off, packaging malicious functions with what appear to be legitimate programs, is nothing new. But Webroot's latest analysis of UK-based spyware, Trojans and system monitors, shows that users are now being hit with a range of sometimes self-inflicted woes as a matter of course.

The top three adware programs for October were the Comet Cursor, a browser plug-in that masquerades as a mouse pointer utility, but which also tracks IP addresses and cookies; CoolWebSearch, a Google browser redirection pest that claims to be a way to improve searching; Starware Toolbar, a pop-up blocker that displays its own ads. All would likely have been installed by users who did not understand what they were signing up for.

In the category of 'system monitors', the picture is much the same, with many of the top programs mentioned, 007 Spy, Nok-Nok, and Win-Spy Monitor, being programs that claim to have a legitimate purpose, that of monitoring keystrokes on a PC for the purposes of surveillance. These programs don't necessarily pass themselves off in an inaccurate way, but are open to abuse if installed on a PC without the owner's knowledge.

Even the Trojans noted by Webroot, with Zlob and Trojan.Gen at the head of the list, will likely have found a home by packaging themselves with another apparently useful download.

The figures for October 2007 come from the company's Phileas bot, an automatic malware tracking system that spiders for web threats in real time, and which can relate these to specific geographical areas. The figures measure threats directed against users, rather than specific reports.

"The technology behind spyware has become so far advanced, and is moving so quickly, that manual detection methods utilised by many security companies and freeware providers can't keep up with it," said Webroot's CEO, Peter Watkins.

That said, the company's October statistics suggest that most of the malware that affects UK users is remarkably old, in some cases years old. The Comet Cursor and Starware have been in circulation since September 2006, while the CoolWebSearch dates back to February 2004, circumstantial evidence that users are sometimes installing malware themselves in a way that circumvents security software.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E. Dunn

Computerworld UK
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?