Users of MySpace who find a link to a video and press the Play button may have just agreed to install adware from 180solutions’ Zango division.
A serendipitous search by Vitalsecurity.org through the profiles on MySpace for adware companies revealed profiles belonging to Zango. The Zango profiles were crafted to push Zango’s products to visitors.
One profile pushes a toolbar and programs for protecting “kids from predators,” noted Vitalsecurity. The other profile launches what looks like a typical video player seen on many MySpace profiles when visited.
For the careless user who does not read the fine print in the popup video player, clicking the big red Play Now button places the Zango Search Assistant and its Toolbar on the user’s system. It’s a twist on the typical enticement to download software the user may not want if he actually knew what was being downloaded.
Spyware researcher Ben Edelman has studied many adware companies, and he has a couple of articles on experiences with 180’s Zango. One of his articles described how Zango placed a .dat file on a test machine; that file was loaded with 166,246 words and phrases that were used to trigger popups from 180 when the PC visited certain sites.
Another Edelman article displayed the previous approach used by Zango to attempt to convince a user to add the software to a PC.
This older window has the same text as the one now being found on MySpace. There are two differences: the MySpace popup contains a video window, and instead of the Finish button in the older window, the MySpace one has the Play Now button.
Vitalsecurity noted the insidiousness of the video popup approach: