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February 27th, 2010

VirusTotal Brand Abused To Push Scareware Through Forum Spam

The name of the popular file analysis service VirusTotal is being abused by cyber-crooks to infect users with scareware. A recent forum spam campaign tries to trick people into visiting a malicious website hosted at has been well known as free virus and malware online scan service which allows submitters to test a particular file against a multitude of malware scanners. So, it’s not highly surprising that malware authors would try to use that name to further their gain.

Security researchers from Sophos reported a spam run promoting the rogue virus-total domain, as a private message on a forum. The message employs scare tactics in order to frighten users into visiting the scareware-pushing website.

The message looks like this:

Subject: Warning!


Dear [Redacted forum user name],

You have received a new private message at [Redacted] Forum from [Redacted], entitled “Warning!”.

To read the original version, respond to, or delete this message, you must log in here:


This is the message that was sent:
Dear, [Redacted forum user names]

There are viruses’ activities from your computer! Highly recommend you to scan your computer for malicious and potentially unwanted software. If you do not follow this, I will have to make a complaint to your Internet Service Provider with attached log file (your IP address, etc.). If you want to find a report about your computer’s security and solve every problem with it, please click here: http://www.virus-total.[TLD removed]/detected/[Redacted] This is an online service that you can use for free spyware removal. Use it to scan your computer to help protect, clean, and keep your computer running at its best. Use the free scan to check for and remove viruses, spyware, and other potentially malicious software and to find vulnerabilities or shortcomings in your Internet security.

Thank you. Yours truly, [Redacted].

This attack clearly targets, a popular free service which allows users to scan suspicious files with over 40 antivirus engines and other tools. Julio Canto, VirusTotal’s project manager, issued an alert about the rogue website via Twitter.

The site displays bogus security warnings and fake antivirus scans to unsuspecting visitors, tricking them into installing a scareware program called SecurityTool. Rogue security programs such as these are commonly used by cyber-criminals to charge money for useless licenses and steal credit card details.

The above popup would follow by the loading of a fake scanning page inside the browser:

One of the interesting parts of this fake page is that the “Windows Security Alert” pop-up is actually a time-delayed object inside the page. Even though the box looks like a window box from Windows XP, it is not moveable at all.

When the fake scanning completes, another pop-up will be generated asking the user to download a file called security_tool_setup.exe. Needless to say, this file is malicious and is yet another one of the Fake Antiviruses.  This executable has already been proactively detected by Sophos as Mal/FakeVirPk-A.

“An unfortunate side effect of a scam like this is that the real VirusTotal could start to receive emails from irate victims of the fake site claiming they’ve ‘infected my PC’ – fingers crossed it doesn’t get to that stage. Remember: the REAL domain for VirusTotal is Don’t fall for this scam!” Sunbelt’s Chris Boyd advises.

Another unusual aspect of this attack is the threat of filing a complaint with a user’s ISP about the virus activity alleged in the spam message. This statement comes at a time when ISPs have announced initiatives to identify compromised computers on their networks and take proactive measures to clean them.

Credit: News, SophosLabs Blog

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