Tag Archives: Malicious Software

WARNING!!!…Trojan Horse…Spread by Internet Marketers!


Warning!!!…Trojan Horse…found in 21 downloaded programs!

In the course of my duties (reviewing Software and eBooks) it is necessary that I join and/or participate in most of the on-line Giveaway promotions abundant on the Internet today. Yesterday I signed on to one such program and afterwards downloaded 25 “.zip” files to review. Each represented a different “free” program or eBook offer in return for my name and email address.

As a safety measure in such download incidences, I always make such downloads to an external USB hard drive, thereby isolating the files received from my system. For further protection, these files are downloaded to a separate folder in an isolated and protected portion of that drive. Thereafter, when time permits, a separate virus scan is run on that folder before it is used for anything. OK, so I have a lot of equipment…that’s not what is important here!

What is important…of the 25 “.zip” files downloaded, 21 of them contained a “Trojan Horse” of one type or another!

What is a Trojan Horse, well, I’ll leave you to research that on your own since it would take too much time to explain in this article and there is plenty of material already available on the subject. But, what you need to know (if you do not already understand) is that you “Do Not want a Trojan Horse infecting your system”!

What I want to identify in this article is one of the largest common vehicles responsible for the dissemination of the Trojan Horse infection. Now, 21 out of 25 files must give you some clue, but who is responsible?

In truth, it is impossible to answer that question. In general, these Trojan Horses have to be coded (written) into the file being distributed and this is usually accomplished when the file is originally created. However, it is possible to be added after the original creation of the file. The “file” as stated here is usually an execution (“.exe”) or other file that must be opened by your system. Therefore, the Trojan Horse coding could have been written and attached to the program any-time from its origination up and including the time it was made available for you to download. So as you can see, responsibility can be very hard to attach with respect to the origin of a particular Trojan Horse coding. However, placing responsibility for its dissemination is another matter!

In the world of today, generally these malicious programs are disseminated by unsuspecting, usually fairly “newbie” persons in the Internet Marketing game. But, they must take responsibility, in part, as the final link in the distribution chain. Before them, however, there are generally several other layers of persons who, many times, are just as passively innocent as the “newbie”. You see, today, many of these programs have a very wide bottom level and pyramid to a single person at the top, who may or may not be equally responsible. Remember, the file has probably by now passed through many hands since its origination.

All Internet Marketers are taught that getting involved in “giveaway” programs and the like are valuable in building their business. Offer something “free” in return for a “sign-up”. This will “build your list” which established your client base. This in itself is a myth, but that is a completely different topic. The Internet buzz phrase is: “The money is in the list”! However, no-one tells the new entries into the field of Internet Marketing that the statement only really applies to “lists of customers” (people who buy), not to generally collected names and email addresses of people looking specifically for something “free”. So, how does it go?

The elite Internet Marketers recruit “newbies” and during the process offer them “free” items in return for their sign-up. Some of thee people sign-on as affiliates (people who will promote the products they received in return for a commission). Hey, says the recruiter, you thought this product was great, so will others. Why not promote it your self (to your friend, family, neighbours and others, and earn some money from this worthwhile product? Each affiliate is provided their own identification and in some cases their own little website (which is owned and maintained by the product owner). The recruiter inform the new sign-on, “we will give you the product with your own affiliate links already installed, so anyone who clicks on any of the links set in the product and buys will earn you a commission”. ¬†They are instructed to join these giveaway programs, joint ventures and other such programs, place their product on the site as a “free” item, and collect the name and email address of those people who take the product without cost – “Build Your List”!

Unfortunately, unknowing to them, or the person instructing them in many cases, the product contains the deadly Trojan Horse! These people would probably be horrified if they realized they were part of a chain distributing such a harmful item. Along comes “John Q Public” – “Hey that looks interesting and it’s free” I’ll have a go at that. Download…install…use…and Bingo…the malicious code (Trojan Horse) has been spread again!

The simple truth is the spreading of this Trojan Horse code can be easily diminished. It will probably never by stopped altogether since it is impossible to assume that every hacker, young kid out for thrills, idiots experimenting with new-found coding skills, or others will consider the harm caused to the public by their activities. On the other hand it can be seriously diminished by eliminating its distribution through methods described in this article. No, I am not suggesting these programs be stopped. Instead, I am interested in seeing the marketers involved take more responsibility for their product inclusions in such programs.

That is very easily accomplished. First by the marketer offering the “free” product simply using a virus checking program to inspect the file before submission into such a project. Second by the project owner, director, or whoever, also virus checking the program before placing it on the project site for download. Yes, it would take a little of these people’s time. That time doesn’t compare to the time it takes the public to rid their systems of such codes once their have reached their systems.

It should be apparent it is in the interest of the marketers to include such policies in their programs. Do they really think their credibility holds up to the person whose system has become infected? I don’t know about you, but I, for one, immediately click the “un-subscribe” link in any email received from one of these people. Yes, that means I have un-subscribed to 21 such emails yesterday! Perhaps if more of us took this type of action marketers would get the message and start to act more responsibly, checking their offerings before placing them for public consumption.

In any regard, I strongly suggest and recommend that anyone downloading anything from anywhere on the Internet make sure the incoming file is downloaded to an isolated folder on their hard drive and that they use a virus program to check the file before use. One day there may be legislation enacted that will hold the marketer responsible for the dissemination of materials. Until then, the responsibility lies with the person receiving the file as well as the cost of repair.

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