Sunday, June 06, 2004
D-Day, Browser Hijackers and The Bad Guys
What the heck is the motivation for browser hijackers? The obvious reply is that by forcing people to certain sites they will drive up advertising rates and generate click-through money from people who are too passive or dumb to do anything about their completely screwed up computers. This of course puts the entire advertising industry under scrutiny :-), however, the simple fact is that, like spam, most people will ignore random ads shoved into their faces because of the sheer irritation factor. You did install AdAware or Spybot S&D, didn't you? The problem we're facing here though is that the writers of browser hijackers have gotten quite nasty and tricky in their code, using heavy crypto, and making devious use of extremely low-level Windows functions to keep their crap on your systems.
The more conspiracy-theory minded amongst us (sometimes it is OK to be a bit paranoid) might see this somewhat differently. Think about it, these browser hijackers suck system resources out of your computer, and point your computer to view sites they want you to see (be it through redirectors or the simple expedient of a hosts file). In a crisis situation, a lot of folks will try to get their information through the Internet. Can you imagine the potential for a distributed denial of service attack here, or disinformation? It boggles the mind. One thing I noticed doing nslookups on some of the bad guys was that a few were located in Russia. The prospect of a marriage of convenience between certain factions who can't get over the fact that they lost the Cold War and certain other baddies floating around out there isn't out of the question.
Marriages of convenience of this sort aren't unknown, as it's well-known that certain Teutonic types, fearing a professional appointment with Master Sgt. John Woods or Albert Pierrepont, fled to sunnier climes where their views on certain matters received (and still do, if one checks the best seller lists in those countries) a warm welcome. It's not inconceivable that some of the money those types stole went into funding the quote unquote liberation movements (as the UN so loves to call them, a plague on all their houses) that are giving us a lot of trouble today.