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SecuritySphere2012


Security Sphere 2012 is a variant of Win32/Winwebsec - a family of programs that claims to scan for malware and displays fake warnings of "malicious programs and viruses". They then inform the user that he or she needs to pay money to register the software to remove these non-existent threats.

Win32/Winwebsec has been distributed with many different names. The name used by the malware, the user interface and other details vary to reflect each variant's individual branding. The following details describe Win32/Winwebsec when it is distributed with the name "Security Sphere 2012".

Warning: Win32/Winwebsec may stop affected users from running all but a short list of specified applications. This may have an adverse effect on security applications that would otherwise remove this malware. If your antivirus scanner is unable to remove this threat because of this behavior, please see the additional removal instructions below.



What to do now

To detect and remove this threat and other malicious software that may be installed on your computer, run a full-system scan with an appropriate, up-to-date, security solution. The following Microsoft products detect and remove this threat:

Additional remediation instructions for Security Sphere 2012

Win32/Winwebsec may stop affected users from running all but a short list of specified applications. This may have an adverse effect on security applications that would otherwise remove this malware. If your antivirus scanner is unable to remove this threat because of this behavior, please see the additional removal instructions below:

 
To remove this threat, refer to the following Microsoft KB Article:
 
 
For more information on antivirus software, see http://www.microsoft.com/windows/antivirus-partners/.

Threat behavior

Security Sphere 2012 is a variant of Win32/Winwebsec - a family of programs that claims to scan for malware and displays fake warnings of "malicious programs and viruses". They then inform the user that he or she needs to pay money to register the software to remove these non-existent threats.

Win32/Winwebsec has been distributed with many different names. The name used by the malware, the user interface and other details vary to reflect each variant's individual branding. The following details describe Win32/Winwebsec when it is distributed with the name "Security Sphere 2012".

Installation

When distributed as "Security Sphere 2012", Win32/Winwebsec creates a folder under %Common_AppData% with a randomly-generated name (for example, "c:\documents and settings\all users\application data\oih24500iaeaj24500"). The fake scanner is copied to this folder, using the same name as that of the folder (for example "c:\documents and settings\all users\application data\oih24500iaeaj24500\oih24500iaeaj24500.exe").

It modifies the registry to ensure that the rogue is executed at each Windows start:

In subkey: HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
Sets value: "<malware file name without the extension>" (for example, "oih24500iaeaj24500")
With data: "<malware path and file name>" (for example, "c:\documents and settings\all users\application data\oih24500iaeaj24500\oih24500iaeaj24500.exe")

Payload

Displays false/misleading malware alerts

When run, Security Sphere 2012 performs a fake scan of the system, and falsely claims that a number of files on the system are infected with malware. Should users request that it clean the reported infections, it advises them that they need to pay money to register the program in order for it to do so.

Some examples of the interface, fake alerts, fake scanning results, and popups displayed by "Security Sphere 2012" are shown below:

Terminates processes
After installation, and upon each subsequent re-boot of the system, Security Sphere 2012 prevents the user from launching any application by terminating its process and displaying a message that falsely claims that the process is infected.

Win32/Winwebsec, however, avoids terminating the following processes:

  • aeadisrv.exe
  • alg.exe
  • audiodg.exe
  • csrss.exe
  • conhost.exe
  • ctfmon.exe
  • dwm.exe
  • explorer.exe
  • httpd.exe
  • iastordatamgrsvc.exe
  • iexplore.exe
  • lsass.exe
  • lsm.exe
  • mfnsvc.exe
  • mdnsresponder.exe
  • nvscpapisvr.exe
  • nvvsvc.exe
  • nvsvc.exe
  • pdagent.exe
  • searchindexer.exe
  • services.exe
  • slsvc.exe
  • smss.exe
  • snort.exe
  • spoolsv.exe
  • svchost.exe
  • taskhost.exe
  • wininit.exe
  • winlogon.exe
  • wmiprvse.exe
  • winroute.exe
  • wscntfy.exe

Analysis by Hamish O'Dea


Symptoms

System changes
The following system changes may indicate the presence of this malware:
  • Display of the following fake security program:

  • The presence of the following file, or similar:

    c:\documents and settings\all users\application data\oih24500iaeaj24500\oih24500iaeaj24500.exe
  • The presence of the following registry modifications, or similar:

    In subkey: HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
    Data: "oih24500iaeaj24500"
    Value: "c:\documents and settings\all users\application data\oih24500iaeaj24500\oih24500iaeaj24500.exe"
  • Display of the following fake warnings:


Prevention

Take the following steps to help prevent infection on your computer:
  • Enable a firewall on your computer.
  • Get the latest computer updates for all your installed software.
  • Use up-to-date antivirus software.
  • Limit user privileges on the computer.
  • Use caution when opening attachments and accepting file transfers.
  • Use caution when clicking on links to webpages.
  • Avoid downloading pirated software.
  • Protect yourself against social engineering attacks.
  • Use strong passwords.
Enable a firewall on your computer

Use a third-party firewall product or turn on the Microsoft Windows Internet Connection Firewall.

Get the latest computer updates

Updates help protect your computer from viruses, worms, and other threats as they are discovered. It is important to install updates for all the software that is installed in your computer. These are usually available from vendor websites. Instructions on how to download the latest versions of some common software is available from the following:

You can use the Automatic Updates feature in Windows to automatically download future Microsoft security updates while your computer is on and connected to the Internet.

Use up-to-date antivirus software

Most antivirus software can detect and prevent infection by known malicious software. To help protect you from infection, you should always run antivirus software, such as Microsoft Security Essentials, that is updated with the latest signature files. For more information, see http://www.microsoft.com/windows/antivirus-partners/.

Limit user privileges on the computer

Starting with Windows Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft introduced User Account Control (UAC), which, when enabled, allowed users to run with least user privileges. This scenario limits the possibility of attacks by malware and other threats that require administrative privileges to run.

You can configure UAC in your computer to meet your preferences:

Use caution when opening attachments and accepting file transfers

Exercise caution with email and attachments received from unknown sources, or received unexpectedly from known sources. Use extreme caution when accepting file transfers from known or unknown sources.

Use caution when clicking on links to webpages

Exercise caution with links to webpages that you receive from unknown sources, especially if the links are to a webpage that you are not familiar with, unsure of the destination of, or suspicious of. Malicious software may be installed in your computer simply by visiting a webpage with harmful content.

Avoid downloading pirated software

Threats may also be bundled with software and files that are available for download on various torrent sites. Downloading "cracked" or "pirated" software from these sites carries not only the risk of being infected with malware, but is also illegal. For more information, see 'The risks of obtaining and using pirated software'.

Protect yourself from social engineering attacks

While attackers may attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in hardware or software to compromise a computer, they also attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in human behavior to do the same. When an attacker attempts to take advantage of human behavior to persuade the affected user to perform an action of the attacker's choice, it is known as 'social engineering'. Essentially, social engineering is an attack against the human interface of the targeted computer. For more information, see 'What is social engineering?'.

Use strong passwords

Attackers may try to gain access to your Windows account by guessing your password. It is therefore important that you use a strong password – one that cannot be easily guessed by an attacker. A strong password is one that has at least eight characters, and combines letters, numbers, and symbols. For more information, see http://www.microsoft.com/protect/yourself/password/create.mspx.


Alert level: Low
This entry was first published on: Apr 19, 2011
This entry was updated on: Oct 05, 2011

This threat is also detected as:
  • Win32/Winwebsec (other)
  • Rogue:Win32/Winwebsec (other)