If you've been to cracks.am recently, a site for security software, they have a new plugin that they require you to download in order to download files linked on their site. When you click a link on their site you are greeted with the following message:
The file name for the plugin is "npdlplug-126.96.36.199-0147-setup.exe". It has an icon that would make it appear that it is compressed with WinRar SFX (which it is) and it is only 240kb. So, it may seem that it could be legitimate and you might need to install it to download files, but most computer veterans will see this as looking very suspicious. So, I decided to scan it with VirusTotal.com. VirusTotal runs any file (under 10MB) against most all major anti-virus programs to determine if it is a virus or suspicious in any way. Here are the results:
The software is an adware program known as Adware Lop, a particularly nasty bit of software that is hard to remove. It seems most AV providers will remove this, however, if you do not have one or need a web based solution, I recommend you run a Panda ActiveScan to correct the issue. Alternate online scanners can be found here. If you are not using an active anti-virus solution, you are putting yourself and your computer at risk every time you browse the web, download a file, check your email and do other activities. Panda Anti-Virus includes an anti-virus and anti-spyware in one package with constant updates that can catch, detect and remove threats like Adware Lop before have an attempt to install it. If you're visiting this page - obviously you've either downloaded the file, installed it, or if nothing else, been wondering what it was before doing either of those. Make SURE you are protected from virus and spyware threats at all times.
Still, even if you go to the website that the plugin is downloaded from you get the following message:
PluginDL.comIf you click "Uninstall" you see the following clear message that the program is spyware/adware.
For quick and simple downloads!
Uninstall Download PluginThere is also a comment within the archive, which is it's EULA that states the following:
Start the installation software (if you removed it, download here) then chose the uninstall option.
Uninstall bundled advertisiment
Go to your control panel > Add remove programs > Uninstall "Zone Media * "
* Previously Search Plugin
So, for the time being, I would recommend avoiding this site and not using it for your security solutions. Find another site that has what you are looking for, and do not download or install this plugin. If you already have, uninstall it immediately. I would advise cracks.am to stop using this intrusive and deceptive software to try and make money. If they need to make cash, there are plenty of banner ad providers and affiliate programs that they can sign up for to attempt to generate income for their hosting cost or whatever their purpose is.
Title=Setting up Download Plugin for Mozilla, Opera, Netscape
Download Plugin LicenseThe Download Plugin may not be sold or be included in a product or package.
You may not reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble Download Plugin.
Plugin is an Ad-Ware software which enables the broadcasting
of advertisements, and execution of e-commerce and other internet
related services on the user-interface of the software. You agree to
receive, from time to time, advertisements and other contents through
the Download Plugin. In no event shall the creator be liable for any damages
whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of business
profits, business interruption, loss of business information, or any other
pecuniary loss) arising out of the use of or inability to use this product.
All title and copyrights in Download Plugin (including but not limited to any
images, photographs, animations, text incorporated into Download Plugin),
the accompanying printed materials, and any copies of Download Plugin are
owned by the creator. Download Plugin is protected by copyright laws.
End User License AgreementThis End User License Agreement ("Agreement") governs use of Zone Media Ltd..'s ("ZONE") software product known as Zone-Media.com, and related written materials (the "Software") that you are about to install. The term "Software" also includes any upgrades, modified versions or updates of the Software, which may be provided to you from time to time. A copy of the Software will be licensed to you as the registered end user. ZONE PROVIDES YOU WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO DOWNLOAD THIS FREEWARE SOFTWARE AT NO CHARGE OR A REDUCED CHARGE IN RETURN FOR YOUR AGREEMENT TO INSTALL THE SPONSOR SOFTWARE, WHICH WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH ADDITIONAL CONTENT, PROMOTIONAL OFFERS, ADVERTISEMENTS AND OTHER WEB BROWSER ENHANCEMENTS BASED, IN PART, ON KEYWORDS IN THE WEBSITES YOU VISIT. Before you may download and install the Software, you must agree to the terms and conditions of this Agreement.
2) By accepting these terms and conditions, the Software will be installed on your computer. If incorrect host-file entries are detected for this Software's related domain names, those entries will be removed in order for this software to function properly.
3) By accepting this agreement you acknowledge that in order for this software to function properly it must communicate with its host network via the Internet from your computer. You hereby grant your explicit approval for this software to communicate from this computer system through your software firewall or hardware routing system (if present) with ZONEs' host network. For users of Windows XP Sp2 this softwares host domain names will be added to your web browsers allowed list for popups. Because this software will incorporate as part of your Internet Explorer web browser package and will run as part of that process when active on your system, your firewall or router may not prompt you for communication access once this software is installed.
4) The use and presence of the Software is voluntary and the Software may be uninstalled at any time from your computer. The Software may be removed through a variety of methods, including going to the start menu, selecting Control Panel, Add / Remove Programs, and then selecting the Software for removal. This software will be listed under the name of the freeware application that it is bundled with or under the name "Search Plugin" for generic installation packages. You can also request a separate installer from support@Zone-Media.com.
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8) The Software is owned by ZONE and its Suppliers, and is protected by United States Copyright Law and International Treaty provisions. You agree to not copy, modify, adapt, translate, reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble, or make any other attempt to discover the source code of the Software, ZONE's technology and methodology for delivery of additional content, the content of any and all of ZONE's and Suppliers communications with the Software, or the content stored on ZONE's servers. You will also not rent, lease or sublicense the Software. You also agree to install the Software in a single location on a hard disk or other storage device and will only copy the Software for backup purposes and not for the purpose of using an additional copy. You agree to display all proprietary notices or copyright notices that appear on or in the Software. You agree to not access or use the Software other than through the graphical user interface provided with the Software. You agree to not make any derivative works of the Software and that any and all such modifications or enhancements to the Software are the sole property of ZONE or its Suppliers.
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INFORMATION COLLECTED BY ZONEZONE and the Software DO NOT COLLECT ANY PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION about you, such as your name, address, telephone number or e-mail address. ZONE DOES NOT transmit or record the website address (URL) of websites that you visit while you browse the web.
INFORMATION ZONE COLLECTS INCLUDES:
- Standard web log information and computer settings such as your Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, operating system, CPU speed, browser type and version, screen resolution, time zone selected and the version numbers of some of the software installed on your computer.
- A historical record of content and advertisements delivered by the Software, and the response rate associated with the content and advertisements that was delivered to you through the Software application.
- Information provided to any ZONE employees, contractors, or technical support members may be stored on ZONE servers in archives of ZONE's support and customer service department, but such information will not be associated with the information collected or stored in association with your Software ID that may be provided to third parties or the provision of additional content.
- While you are browsing ZONE Media owned web sites, as is true of most Web sites, we gather certain information automatically and store it in log files. This information includes internet protocol (IP) addresses, browser type, internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp, and clickstream data (links you click on the page).
- All of the above information submitted to us by your browser or the Software is considered anonymous information and to the extent we share such information with third parties, it is not traceable to any particular user and will not be used to contact you by e-mail, telephone, or mail. We use this information to analyze trends, to administer the site, to track users' movements around the site and to gather demographic information about our user base as a whole.
SOFTWARE CONFLICTSConflicts may occur with other software applications that may already be installed on your computer. The Software may report back to our servers what applications are running on your computer and this information will be used to help resolve these conflicts whenever possible. This will make the Software more reliable and provide you with products and services that are compatible with your current computer settings. In most cases ZONE will only transmit this information back to ZONE's servers if a software conflict has been detected. If you are having problems with a software product you have installed you may contact ZONE's support department at support@Zone-Media.com for help.
- To display the most relevant advertising based on your interests and surfing activities.
- To identify the affiliate that introduced you to Software, so we know how many introductions that particular affiliate made, and how much to pay that affiliate for the introduction.
- To identify which version of the Software is on your computer.
IF YOU WISH TO DISABLE COOKIES IN YOUR WEB BROWSER
In Internet Explorer, on the Tools menu, click Internet Options.
On the Privacy tab, move the slider up for a higher level of privacy.
Select Block all cookies. Cookies from all Web sites will be blocked and Existing cookies on your computer cannot be read by Web sites
SOFTWARE SECURITY MEASURESThe Software uses encrypted data packets to communicate back and forth with its host server. The host server has security measures in place to attempt to prevent the loss, misuse and alteration of the information under our control. All information is for ZONE's accounting and registration purposes only. Only employees and affiliates of ZONE and its licensor will be authorized to have access to varying degrees of this information.
UPDATE 1/22/07: Charles Herold has reported that he has had to use an alternate method to remove this malware program from his PC. He has all the instructions listed in a post on his blog. I will be writing a new article soon with extensive instructions on removing spyware/malware/adware and I will link to it here when it's completed.