ANI Trojan Sticks It to Popular Geek Hardware Site Visitors

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2007-05-11 Print this article Print

More than a month after Microsoft patched the .ANI vulnerability, Tom's Hardware finds the W32.ani lurking in a banner ad.

More than a month after Microsoft patched the .ANI vulnerability, the geek favorite e-tailer Toms Hardware has found the W32.ani Trojan lurking in one of its banner ads. ScanSafe, a managed Web security services company, on May 8 noticed a spike in traffic blocks that had a common theme. The company found that was unknowingly hosting the banner ad, which was redirecting users to a site where the driveby malware was automatically downloaded. In an interview with ScanSafe, Vice President of Product Strategy Dan Nadir said that the ad was being hosted out of a site in Argentina. Click here to read more about ANI patch causing problems with third-party apps.
The banner ad was up, infecting victims with unpatched systems, for 24 hours. When ScanSafe contacted Toms Hardware, they were told that the site had already learned of the Trojan from its victims. The site has since removed the ad.
For any high-volume site such as Toms Hareware, a threat such as this stands to get many hits before its removed, even if its up only for an hour, Nadir pointed out. According to a media kit on Toms Hardware, the site gets more than 5 million unique page views from more than 1.9 million unique visitors monthly. It ranks at No. 923 on Amazon.coms Alexa Web traffic ranking service, according to ScanSafe. The incident illustrates the current status of malware worming its way into places that many people wouldnt expect them to be. "The trend a couple years ago was you could tell people to keep away from [certain sites, such as porn sites], and youll be safe. Because of these exploits, any site can potentially host malicious content. You cant just rely on user education or URL filtering that says This is a good site vs. This s a bad site. Any site can potentially be a bad site. Weve seen them in lots of MySpace pages, on Wikipedia pages and in banner ads. Theyre all over the place now," Nadir said. A service like ScanSafe sits on the front end and uses real-time scanning to block these types of Trojan downloads before they have a chance to infect a system. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEKs Security Watch blog.
Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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