Wednesday, 23 April 2008 - there's no such thing as a "safe" site

Websense gave a heads up about yet another mass defacement, impacting a few high profile web sites. Just to make life difficult, they didn't specify the domain in use.. but it isn't exactly rocket science to find out that it is

I'm going to make an assumption that if you're reading this blog, you're at least somewhat technically savvy. Don't visit any of these sites unless you know what you are doing.

Googling brings up several thousand matches. Surprisingly, an eximination of shows that it is not obfuscated at all and points to and that has all the exploits nicely laid out - MS07-055, MS07-033, MS07-018, MS07-004 and MS06-014. Also there are exploits for RealPlayer, Ajax, QQ Instant Messenger and some sort of Yahoo! product (probably Instant Messenger).

If your site has been compromised and you're looking for answers.. well, all I can tell you is that it will have been done through some sort of SQL Injection similar to this one.

If you're supporting client PCs that are fully patched, you have a little less to worry about unless you have RealPlayer or Yahoo! IM installed. Perhaps it is a good time to consider banning these applications in any case, particularly RealPlayer which is a very common vector for attack.

Why do I say there's no such thing as a "safe" site? Well, among the compromised sites are the following: [Independent publication about Microsoft] [Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine] [UK Civil Service] [UK Civil Service] [Canadian National Security] [UK Local Government] [United Nations] [UNICEF] [Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering] [United Methodist Church] [United Methodist Information Technology Association] [Islamic Information site] [Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts] [Sports] [Major UK wine retailer] [Electronic components] [Computer components] [Airline] [Airline]

In other words, you can't rely on the site you are visiting to be safe.. so the onus is on the end user to make sure their PC is fully patched and as secure as possible.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Win32/Loodok!generic.2 in SYSTEM.DLL - likely false positive

We're getting a plague of these with eTrust (pattern 5723):

[time 22/04/2008 12:54:21: ID 14: machine response 22/04/2008 12:54:46] The Win32/Loodok!generic.2 was detected in C:\DOCUME~1\XXXXX\LOCALS~1\TEMP...\SYSTEM.DLL. Machine: XXXXX, User: XXXXX\xxxxx. Status: File was cured; system cure performed.

The subdirectory varies, but it is usually %user profiles%\local settings\temp\ns???.tmp where the question marks indicate a random letter/number. You may find that the subdirectory has vanished by the time you investigate.

This appears to be happening with the installer for Firefox (also tested with Netscape Navigator). You can see the problem if you snooze the AV scanner and then fire up the Firefox installer and leave it running.. the SYSTEM.DLL is clearly there.

Apart from eTrust, VirusTotal gives it a clean bill of health.

You may be seeing this fire off by itself if a software package is autoupdating. I can't identify exactly which installer is in use here, but it is likely to be shared between many other applications.. so expect a storm of these.

As usual with false positives, expect a fix to be issued by CA very soon. The problem seems to be with pattern 5723, so updating to a later virus signature should probably cure it.

Added: Pattern 5724 also reports a positive, but the beta version of 5725 does not. You can download beta signatures from CA here.

Added: 5725 is now available for download as normal, this should cure the problem!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

RavMon.exe virus on new Toshiba Satellite laptop from Comet, Part II

A few weeks ago I wrote about a new laptop with a virus preloaded that was bought from Comet. As far as I knew, I was the only person to have this problem but after carefully checking everything that I had done to set up the machine, my conclusion was that the RAVMON.EXE malware was preloaded on the PC.. but perhaps it was a one-off.

Not so. From the comments on the post, it seems that Toshiba laptops from Currys and PC World have the problem, over at the Irreverence Is Justified blog, it turns out that exactly the same thing has happened. Same virus, same model of Toshiba and Comet (again).

Detections were varied, but it appears to be a trojan that possibly loads itself on via a USB key. The implication is that some part of the manufacturing process / preparation is compromised with infected USB devices.

So Toshiba's manufacturer process is compromised? Well, it appears to be.. but almost definitely an accident rather than a malicious act. Presumably there are many more L40-18Z laptops with the same problem..

Wednesday, 16 April 2008 revisited

Last month I blogged about Trend Micro's website being compromised as well as thousands of others with an IFRAME injection to .

The ISC has followed up with an analysis of the tool used to compromise the sites. It uses an SQL injection attack to infect the server, but the interesting thing is that it uses Google to enumerate the vulnerable sites first, a technique called Google Hacking.

I guess there are a few things to note here - despite the ubiquitousness of SQL, it can still be tricky to set up and is best left to people who know what they are doing. Keep your patches up-to-date, and consider carefully if you want Google (or any other search engine) to be able to index your WHOLE site and adjust your robots.txt if necessary.

The ISC article also links to some good resources if you want to properly secure your database.

Thursday, 10 April 2008 - or how NOT to start an online business

Sometimes, people make mistakes with their online marketing. Newbies can accidentally buy a "millions of email addresses CD" with a load of scraped email addresses and spam away. Sometimes they are not aware of trademark laws. But sometimes they are just plain stupid in so many ways that there is no excuse for not ripping into them.

Mistake One - Trademark Violation
In this case, the budding entrepreneur has gone for the name - confusingly similar to a well-known auction company called eBay. Sure, there are other users of the "ezbay" name, but the closeness of the name and even the "camel case" capitalisation are asking for trouble, possibly some years down the line.. but trouble nonetheless.

Mistake Two - Choose a stupid domain name.
Not only does "" possibly violate trademarks, but it uses the "" namespace which is designed for personal use only. That could well lead to the name being revoked by the registrar. Worse, the name doesn't make sense in British English - "Ee Zed Bay"? In American English it's "Easy Bay" which *does* makes sense.. but not in conjunction with a domain name.

Mistake Three - Spam
There's no excuse for sending out unsolicited bulk email to scraped email address, but have done exactly that. That tends to lead to a very short life expectancy for the new auction site that you have just created.

24/7 online Auction Site

This is our new 24/7 on line auction please feel free to take a look if you like what you find please register and we will give you £20.00 sellers fee completely free there is no listing fee for items that you may want to sell so what are you waiting for sign up to day for your £20.00 and start selling at feel free to take a look around at all the bargins
we have many less than 50% cheaper than the high street price so come on see
how easy it is with ezbay happy shopping


Car DVD player starting bid 50p buy now price £139.00

MP4 player with 1.3m pixels digital camera 2.5in TFT screen starting bid 50p buy now price £32.90

12mp digital video camera with MP3/MP4 starting bid 50p buy now price £76.00

1.1 inch screen clip MP3 player starting bid 50p buy now price £8.50

12.1-inch with 4:3 display roof mount TFT-LCD monitor Starting bid 50p buy now price £62.50

MP3 player sunglasses with FM super-plastic frame and build-in 1 GB flash
memory starting bid 50p buy now price

best regards

mr a m dick
ezbay world

Mistake Four - Be offensive
Signing off an email with a name of "Mr A M Dick" is always likely to annoy people (unless that is the person's name in which case.. oh dear).

Mistake Five - Read Receipts
Not only is this spam, but it also sent out with a read receipt in a clumsy way to confirm the recipient's email address. Not only will the muppet sending out the spam be overwhelmed with receipts, but many people regard them as invasive of privacy.

The forensics..
The headers indicate that the mail comes from which is also the IP address of, so that's pretty much a smoking gun.

The domain name is registered to:

     Domain name:


Registrant type:
UK Individual

Registrant's address:
8 Calle Las Encines
Fuenta De Piedra
295 30

Last time I checked, Malaga wasn't in the UK. This address is connected with an Alibaba operation called Murrays Discount.

There's no evidence that this is a scam, but it is almost a textbook example of how to kill a business before it starts. It is notable that despite the spam run, the only person actually selling is "Murray" himself.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

419 Scams and Social Engineering

One key element that scammers use when carrying out their business is social engineering. Usually, the approach is to make the victim believe that they are getting something for nothing.. it's even better when they can persuade the victim that the VICTIM is actually scamming someone else.

Take this recent example:

Date: Tue, April 8, 2008 9:15 am

My Dear Friend,
This is to thank you for your effort.I understood that your hands were tied.But Not
to worry.

I have succeeded,the money has been transfered into the account provided by a newly
found friend of mine in Australia. To compensate for your past assistance and
commitments,i have droped an International Certifie Bank Draft cheque worth of
$1,200,000,00 for you.
I am in London with my family presently.I do intend to establish some business
concerns here,and possibly buy some properties.Contact my Secretary in
benin-Republic? job_mike20@yahoo.fron his email below ( Forward
my mail to him,then ask him to send the cheque to you.Take good care of your self.
Best Regards,

Even though the English is very poor, the concept here is a bit more sophisticated than your average 419 scam. The email has been designed to look as though it has been misdelivered in some way - so the victim thinks that this should have been sent to someone else. But there's a dangling carrot of $1.2m here, and some people will see an opportunity to try to bilk "Eze John" out of the money.

Of course, there is no money.. but there will be a whole set of mysterious "fees" and expenses to try to get the money out, that at least is standard for a 419 scam. The twist is here that the VICTIM is also attempting to perpetrate a fraud, and this makes it very unlikely that the victim will ever go to the police to report it. It is also possible that the scammer might try to blackmail the victim to keep it quiet.

This approach offers a great deal of protection for the fraudsters. The original email is rather vague and might not be obvious to law enforcement. And if anyone takes the hook, then the victim too appears guilty.

This attempt is a bit of a lame one, but a truly successful con artist can use these techniques with a great deal more polish. So although you would never follow up on a misdirected email like this, it is easy to see how people can fall for it.

Monday, 7 April 2008

"" Money Mule Scam

Money mule scams are usually associated with Eastern European criminals, but this one is slightly different originating from an IP address of in Nigeria.

Industrial & Personal Financier's
Our Ref: FMF-117-212.
MEMO: 2008-2nd Quarter-Online Search Recruitment Exercise.

HILTON FINANCE HOME Inc in-support of Magnum Building Company Int (Interior
Furniture Experts) will be opening this offer to Interested Individuals/Corporate
bodies in the United States, Canada, Australia and the Entire Europe to enable them
make an extra 10.05% commission based earning right from the convenience of their
home or office apartment and without affecting their primary occupation.

We issue and help to secure loans on behalf of customers who make purchases from our
partner company Magnum Building Company Int which we also process and monitor to
make sure that our loans are used for the sole reason of financing our customer
purchases with our parent company.

Since most of our customers make payments in large Instrumental fractions after
securing a finance loan for them, our mother company became faced with the task of
receiving loan payments from Magnum Building Company Int customers through our
conventional method of payments remittance due to delays in processing time. Hence,
we decided to advertise and search for Individuals of GOOD STANDING who will assist
the company receive these finance payments directly from our finance houses/banks as
on behalf of our customers and then forward on to the company on a weekly/monthly
basis. Some little amounts however will come from our customers directly

You will be accredited as our legal Payment representative in the United States,
Canada, Australia and the Entire Europe and will be in charge of all payments from
within your region, for this you will be paid a 10.05% of all payments you receive,
and forward on a weekly/monthly basis.

To get more Information about this Business arrangement, you should reply to our
e-mail providing the Information listed below and we will either respond by regular
mail or Fax providing you with our business prospectus.

First Name:
Last Name:
Contact Address:
Fax Numbers:
Best Time to Call:

Please send your correspondence and Information to.
Recruit Department.
David Benson.
IMPORTANT NOTICE:- Please be advised that this is a 100% legal business endeavor and
that it is only a contract based employment program and that it will not in any way
affect your primary employment.

Copyright 2008-2009 Hilton Finance Home Inc © All right reserved

This is soliciting replies to a domain of, registered in January 2008 - this appears to be registered to a real address and possibly with genuine contact details. Usually in these cases, the contact details are false, so I've attached this as an image rather than something indexable.

The domain is hosted by Microsoft, and although there's no web site there is an MX record: mail is handled by 25

So, on a first inspection the domain looks legitimate.. it might even be that it is legitimately registered but has been hijacked. Nonetheless, this is a classic money mule scam where the victim thinks they are getting 10.05% commission for next to no work.. the Nigerian IP address is a clincher too. And you've got to love the phrase please be advised that this is a 100% legal business endeavor which is always another sure sign of a scam.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Telephore - advertising gone too far?

Context-sensitive ads are all the rage, but Telephore is the first one to bring them to your mobile phone.. nope, not text messages, but spoken ads that interrupt your call!

What is even more troubling is that Telephore analyses your conversations with a sophisticated voice recognition system and stores them for later reference. Is this too much power to give to a private company? Mobile Gazette have more details on this controversial system.