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

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

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

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

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.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?