In recent days, pop-up spam has begun appearing, by way of Windows Messenger, on the home computer of a Reg staffer. Mostly, the messages promote porn sites.
Last October, we revealed that a firm called DirectAdvertiser had worked out a way of using the Windows RPC (Remote Procedure Call) function to send spam messages which pose as system alerts.
The company has developed a means to leverage Windows' inbuilt Messenger service to blast crap at million of IP addresses.
Now DirectAdvertiser has found a reseller, in the shape of 3032.com, to ramp up the assault. The new pop-ups are grey boxes which take up perhaps a third of the computer screen. They don't pose as system ads - they are bloody great big ads.
According to reader reports, there was a forum at 3032.com where punters could vent their spleen at its intrusive behaviour. That's now been pulled.
So we're left with the hard sell: Send 22 million Pop-ups a day! Practically untraceable! Bulk email is regulated by different laws in different states, instant popups are not! etc etc ad nauseum.
The issue arises out of a feature, not a bug as such, within versions of Windows from Win NT onwards involving Windows in-built "net send" Messenger Service. MSN Instant Messenger is not affected.
So how to prevent this assault?
Microsoft's advice to personal user is to use a firewall to block NetBIOS and RPC traffic. If you are running Windows XP, turn on the Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) feature for your Internet connection. But the Beast warns against simply disabling Windows Messenger because a back-door is still open for attackers to insert, say, a trojan on your PC.
Here is the horror show in full:
In addition to transmitting net send messages to your computer over the Internet, a malicious user may also be able to use the NetBIOS connection to your computer to perform the following tasks:
- Access your private information.
- Initiate denial of service (DoS) attacks against a high profile Web site.
- Distribute software illegally by appropriating space on your hard disk.
But if you decide to ignore Microsoft's advice, you may still wish to consider manual disabling.
Instructions can be found here and a free software package (along with much more information on the issue) here. ®