Media releases are provided as is by companies and have not been edited or checked for accuracy. Any queries should be directed to the company itself.

Sophos asks: Marketing Stunt or Computer Virus

  • 15 July, 2003 15:13

<p>Sophos technical support in Australia have received a number of reports from users who have received emails inviting them to visit a website containing free comic video clips – including, for example, the well-known sequence of Bill Gates suffering "entartement" (a pie in the face) whilst on a visit to Europe. The website is run by Avenue Media NV, who are based on the Caribbean island of Curacao.</p>
<p>The problem is that after viewing the comedy clip of your choice, you start to send similar invitations to your email contacts. But no virus is involved, so how can this happen?</p>
<p>The answer is that the video clip is not downloaded directly. Instead, clicking on the link launches an ActiveX control which not only displays the video, but also downloads an additional software component named "Internet Optimizer" onto your PC.</p>
<p>"What tricks a lot of people," says Paul Ducklin, Sophos's Sydney-based Head of Technology, Asia Pacific, "is that the ActiveX control which kicks the process off is digitally signed. Many users assume that a program which has been signed in this way is automatically both trustworthy and desirable. Ironically, even though Internet Explorer presents a 'security warning', many people treat this as some kind of a 'security approval' and are more inclined to go ahead."</p>
<p>Once you have agreed to let the ActiveX control run, the "Internet Optimizer" program takes over, asking you to agree to an End User Licence Agreement (EULA). This EULA grants Avenue Media numerous rights, including sending email and instant messages to your contacts, automatically updating or adding to the software on your PC, and even updating the EULA itself by publishing a new version at a specified URL.</p>
<p>"Unfortunately, you need to read the small print," says Ducklin. "Otherwise you may end up suffering the side-effects of a virus attack, such as email overload and the installation of unexpected software, even though you aren't actually infected with a virus."</p>
<p>Sophos advises the following for system administrators looking to keep this particular viral marketing tool out:</p>
<p>1. Update your anti-virus software. Sophos Anti-Virus can block the components of this tool, including the ActiveX control (detected as App/CrmRest-A) and the "Internet Optimizer" application (App/Optimiz-A).</p>
<p>2. Consider tightening your browser security. Try setting "Download signed ActiveX controls" to "Disable" instead of the more common "Prompt". Ensure that "Download unsigned ActiveX controls" is at "Disable", too.</p>
<p>3. If you have a web proxy, consider blocking access to the domains "" and "" to prevent the components of this tool from being retrieved.</p>
<p>Further information is available at:</p>
Paul Ducklin ( is available for comment:
+61 407 320 515 (mobile)
+61 2 9409 9100 (tel)
+61 2 9409 9191 (fax)</p>
<p>Sophos's press contact at Gotley Nix Evans is:
Michael Henderson (
+61 2 9957 5555 (tel)
+61 413 054 738 (mobile)
+61 2 9957 5575 (fax)</p>

Most Popular

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?