Software Impersonation

At ZDNet, Ryan Naraine of security firm Kaspersky Lab advises to doublecheck the links you click in Twitter or weblogs: “A Twitter profile has started lending links with lures to a pornographic video of Brazilian pop star Kelly Key… If you click on the link, you get a window that shows the progress of an automatic download of a so-called new version of Adobe Flash which is supposedly required to watch the video. You end up with a file labeled Adobe Flash (it’s a fake) on your machine. In reality, this is a Trojan downloader that proceeds to download 10 bankers [password-theft malware] onto the infected machine, all of which are disguised as MP3 files.”

Bottom line: Clicking on links in social media is like not washing your hands after being out in public — you just can’t know what you will pick up.

The part that worries me the most is the “says it’s Adobe Flash” part. We’ve seen such impersonation before with files (“Naked Wife”, eg). But to actually impersonate a very well-known runtime? I’m not sure how that will play out. Some people will fall for it, and I feel for them, but most would see through it. Still, some real people will be hurt.

David Lenoe, from Adobe’s Security Team, had a blogpost up about it today. I don’t think that the people who need that reminder would ever see it though. I’m still concerned.

Adobe is not directly involved, but the infection relies upon using the existing goodwill towards the overall Adobe Flash ecology… without all those sites which made Flash a standard, this social exploitation would not work. (And Ryan’s article doesn’t clearly state whether the link is to an .HTM, .EXE, or other file, so it’s unclear to me yet whether URL-shortening services are currently enabling the exploit.)

A bigger bottom line: Someone out there in the world is going to get their bank accounts stolen because they saw a dialog that said “Adobe Flash” and they said “Okay”. I don’t feel right about that.

Do you have thoughts, advice, observations on this? I’m seeking different ways to look at this problem, different approaches we might take. Open to anything, thanks in advance.