CoolWebSearch Variants


CWS.Datanotary

Variant 1: CWS.Datanotary - Introduction to Destruction

Approx date first sighted: May 27, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=8661
Symptoms: Massive IE slowdown, especially when typing text into forms
Cleverness: 9/10
Manual removal difficulty: Very easy, if you know where to look
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
O19 - User stylesheet: c:\windows\my.css

The first variant of CoolWebSearch wasn't even identified as such. There only were several threads of users experiencing enormous slowdowns in IE when typin messages into text boxes. Delays of over a minute before the typed text appeared were reported. Also some redirections to www.datanotary.com were reported.

The solution to this problem took a while to surface, but after a few weeks (which is pretty long) someone reported the problem going away when going into IE Options, Accessability and disabling the 'Use My Stylesheet' option. After that, the fake stylesheet file could be deleted.

The hijack installed a stylesheet that used a flaw in Internet Explorer and allowed a .css stylesheet file to execute Javascript code. The code in the file was encrypted, and spawned a popup off-screen that did the redirecting. However, this file was called on almost every action taken in IE, slowing it down - this was the most obvious when typing text.


CWS.Bootconf

Variant 2: CWS.Bootconf - Evolution

Approx date first sighted: July 6, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=7821
Symptoms: Massive IE slowdown, illegible URLs ie IE Options, redirections when mistyping URLs, startpage & search page changed on reboot
Cleverness: 8/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves some Registry editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer,SearchURL=http://%77%77%77%2e
%63%6f%6f%6c%77%77%77%73%65%61%72%63%68%2e%63%6f%6d/%7a/%62/%78%31%2e
%63%67%69?%36%35%36%33%38%37
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar=http://%77%77%77%2e%63
%6f%6f%6c%77%77%77%73%65%61%72%63%68%2e%63%6f%6d/%7a/%63/%78%31%2e
%63%67%69?%36%35%36%33%38%37
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page=http://%77%77%77%2e%
63%6f%6f%6c%77%77%77%73%65%61%72%63%68%2e%63%6f%6d/%7a/%62/%78%31%2e
%63%67%69?%36%35%36%33%38%37
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page=http://%77%77%77%2e
%63%6f%6f%6c%77%77%77%73%65%61%72%63%68%2e%63%6f%6d/%7a/%61/%78%31%2e
%63%67%69?%36%35%36%33%38%37 about:blank
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page=http://yourbookmarks.ws/
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchURL,(Default)=http://www.searchxp.com/search.php?qq=%s
O1 - Hosts: 1123694712 auto.search.msn.com
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [sysPnP] C:\WINNT\System32\bootconf.exe
O19 - User stylesheet: C:\WINNT\default.css
After HijackThis had built-in support for decrypting the URLS:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer,SearchURL = http://www.coolwwwsearch.com/z/b/x1.cgi?100 (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,SearchURL = http://www.jetseeker.com/ie/
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://www.coolwwwsearch.com/z/c/x1.cgi?100 (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Page_URL = http://www.coolwwwsearch.com/z/a/x1.cgi?100 (obfuscated)
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://www.searchv.com/
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchURL,(Default) = http://www.jetseeker.com/ffeed.php?term=%s
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Local Page = http://search.xrenoder.com
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page_bak = http://search.xrenoder.com

The second variant seemed like the first one in only one way: it used the exact same .css stylesheet file. But it took the hijack one step further by not only changing the IE startpage and search pages, but changing them to illegible hexcode garbage.

Only when this code was decyphered it became clear that CoolWebSearch was behind this all. It almost seemed as if they let Datanotary take the stylesheet exploit hijack for a test ride, before using it themselves.

The hijack further involved redirecting the default 'server not found' page to the CoolWebSearch portal homepage by editing the Hosts file, and reloading the entire hijack when the machine was rebooted using a bootconf.exe file that was started with Windows. We also started to see some pages which seemed affiliates of CWS since almost all their links led to www.coolwebsearch.com.

CWS.Oslogo

Variant 3: CWS.OSLogo.bmp - Send in the affiliates

Approx date first sighted: July 10, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=8210
Symptoms: Massive IE slowdowns
Cleverness: 2/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves some Registry editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer,SearchURL = http://www.coolwwwsearch.com/z/b/x1.cgi?656387 (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/ redir?lang={S...201058341631385
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Page_URL = http://www.coolwwwsearch.com/z/a/ x1.cgi?656387 (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Search_URL = http://www.coolwwwsearch.com/z/b/ x1.cgi?656387 (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/ redir?lang={S...201058341631385
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/ redir?lang={S...201058341631385
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://stopxxxpics.com
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Search_URL = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/ redir?lang={S...201058341631385
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/ redir?lang={S...201058341631385
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/ redir?lang={S...201058341631385
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\,HomeOldSP = http://www.coolwwwsearch.com/z/a/ x1.cgi?656387 (obfuscated)
O1 - Hosts: 1123694712 auto.search.msn.com
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [sysPnP] C:\WINNT\System32\bootconf.exe
O15 - Trusted Zone: *.coolwwwsearch.com
O15 - Trusted Zone: *.msn.com
O19 - User stylesheet: C:\WINDOWS\Web\oslogo.bmp

After HijackThis was updated for a few tricks CWS used, a new variant surfaced that showed CWS was just getting started. The filename of the user stylesheet changed into one that didn't even look like a stylesheet on the outside, but got accepted by IE anyway. Two domains were added to the Trusted Zone to ensure CWS could do its dirty work and install any updates if they ever became available.

But most of all, IE start and search pages started getting changed to several dozen different sites that were all affiliated to CWS. There didn't seem to be an end to the flow of different domains users were hijacked to. When I write this, over 80 domains are known CWS affiliates - and all appeared in users' logs.

CWS.Msspi

Variant 4: CWS.Msspi - Let's get dangerous

Approx date first sighted: July 28, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=9170
Symptoms: Popups with 'enhanced results' when doing searches on Google, Yahoo and Altavista
Cleverness: 9/10
Manual removal difficulty: Impossible, I kid you not
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
O10 - Unknown file in Winsock LSP: c:\windows\system32\msspi.dll
O10 - Unknown file in Winsock LSP: c:\windows\system32\msspi.dll
O10 - Unknown file in Winsock LSP: c:\windows\system32\msspi.dll
O10 - Unknown file in Winsock LSP: c:\windows\system32\msspi.dll
O10 - Unknown file in Winsock LSP: c:\windows\system32\msspi.dll
O10 - Unknown file in Winsock LSP: c:\windows\system32\msspi.dll

At about this time, the variant appeared that was the hardest to remove. Users started reporting that when they went to Google, Yahoo or Altavista to search for something, popups appeared that (most of the time) advertised bogus 'enhanced results'. This was the one and only symptom.

After looking over the log, it was quickly concluded the msspi.dll file was to blame. One expert took the file apart and found several key URLs that were monitored, and when he changed them to bogus URLs the popups were gone.

However, the file hooked into the Winsock LSP chain, which lies very deep into the bowels of Windows and is one of the hardest parts of Windows to manipulate. Only a very small selection of spyware used this method of infection, and incorrect removal left a computer with a broken Internet connection that could not be fixed even by reinstalling Windows.

Luckily there were one or two tools that could fix a broken Internet connection due to this problem. LSPFix was the one used most since it allowed direct editing of the LSP chain.

CWs.Vrape

Variant 5: CWS.Vrape - Mix and mangle

Approx date first sighted: July 20, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=9067
Symptoms: Redirections to vrape.hardloved.com on virtually anything done in IE, as well as redirections to adult sites, dialers, etc
Cleverness: 5/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves lots of Registry editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer,SearchURL = http://vrape.hardloved.com/ top/search.php?id=2&s=
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer,Search Page = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Search_URL = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Search_URL = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Local Page = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Local Page = http:// vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 thehun.com
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 thehun.net
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 madthumbs.com
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 worldsex.com
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 teeniefiles.com
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 al4a.com
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 sublimedirectory.com
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 thumbzilla.com
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 sexocean.com
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 easypic.com
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 absolut-series.com
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 jpeg4free.com
O1 - Hosts: 65.77.83.222 thumbnailpost.com
O13 - DefaultPrefix: http://vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=
O13 - WWW Prefix: http://vrape.hardloved.com/top/search.php?id=2&s=

Perhaps the most widely spread variant of CoolWebSearch, this one was a nightmare for the average user. It combined several hijacking methods, along with random redirections to porn pages, portals and even adult dialers.

The hijack covered most of IE, and a user was left to sit helplessly and watch as almost his every move was redirected to vrape.hardloved.com. One strange thing about this hijack though, is that it operated alone: it didn't use any affiliates and even redirected other adult sites to its own site. It has only been connected with CWS since it appeared together with it in a few logs.

The only good thing about this variant is that the domain hardloved.com has been offline for more than half a week at the time of writing. It is unknown whether this is because of the sheer amount of users being routed to their site, DoS attacks by irate users, account termination because of violation of their host's user agreement, or something else.

CWS.Oemsyspnp

Variant 6: CWS.Oemsyspnp - Pure genius

Approx date first sighted: July 29, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=8643
Symptoms: Start page/search pages changed to allhyperlinks.com, activexupdate.com in the IE Trusted Zone, reloading of the hijack on some reboots.
Cleverness: 10/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves a bit of Registry editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/redir?lang={SUB_RFC1766}
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/redir?lang={SUB_RFC1766}
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/redir?lang={SUB_RFC1766}
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/redir?lang={SUB_RFC1766}
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://www.adulthyperlinks.com/favorites/8
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/redir?lang={SUB_RFC1766}
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/redir?lang={SUB_RFC1766}
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Search_URL = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/redir?lang={SUB_RFC1766}
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/redir?lang={SUB_RFC1766}
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://www.allhyperlinks.com/redir?lang={SUB_RFC1766}
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [SysPnP] rundll32 setupapi,InstallHinfSection OemVideoPnP 128 oemsyspnp.inf

This variant was spotted nearly by sheer luck, since it used the same Registry value as the second variant (Bootconf) 'SysPnp'. This was a very clever hijack that disguised itself as a driver update. When the computer was started, there was a 1 in 5 chance the hijack was re-installed and changed the IE start page and search pages to allhyperlinks.com.

However, once the hijack was identified, it was easy to stop: only the autostarting oemsyspnp.inf file had to be disabled using MSConfig, and then it could be safely deleted.

CWS.Oemsyspnp.2: A mutation of this variant exists that uses the filename keymgr3.inf, and the Registry value keymgrldr instead.

CWS.Oemsyspnp.3: A mutation of this variant exists that uses the filename drvupd.inf, and the Regustry value drvupd instead. It hijacks to searchforge.com.

CWS.Svchost32

Variant 7: CWS.Svchost32 - Evading detection

Approx date first sighted: August 3, 2003
Log reference: http://boards.cexx.org/viewtopic.php?t=1027
Symptoms: Redirections to slawsearch.com when accessing Google, searching on Yahoo or mistyping an URL
Cleverness: 10/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves a process killer
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page=http://www.slawsearch.com
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [svchost.exe] "C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\svchost32.exe"

This variant of CWS was focused on only evading existing detection tools. What was visible in a HijackThis log wasn't nearly all of it. The hijack installed dozens of redirections from international Google domains, MSN and Yahoo search engines to a webserver running at the user's own machine. The webserver even had the seemingly unsuspicious filename of 'svchost32.exe' to look like the Windows system file 'svchost.exe'. Anytime a user accessed Google, searched with Yahoo or mistyped an URL, he was redirected to slawsearch.com.

Fixing this hijack involved using a process killer to stop the webserver process, and editing the Hosts file to remove the Google/Yahoo/MSN redirections.

CWS.Dnsrelay

Variant 8: CWS.DNSRelay - Hey, that wasn't here before!

Approx date first sighted: August 7, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=9074
Symptoms: Redirections to allhyperlinks.com when omitting 'www' from an URL typed in IE
Cleverness: 8/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves lots of Registry editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R3 - URLSearchHook: MailTo Class - {01A9EB7D-69BC-11D2-AB2F-204C4F4F5020} - C:\WINDOWS\System32\dnsrelay.dll

A very clever hijack that uses a method never used before by any other hijacker, this variant monitored all URLs entered into the IE Address bar, and redirected any URLs starting without 'www' to allhyperlinks.com. The hijack isn't very widespread, and is also pretty hard to spot. Luckily, fixing it requires only deleting one Registry value and one file.

CWS.Dnsrelay.2: A mutation of this variant exists which uses the filename ASTCTL32.OCX instead.

CWS.Dnsrelay.3: A mutation of this variant exists which uses the filename mswsc10.dll instead, which is located in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Web Folders. It hijacks IE to payfortraffic.net. It also adds a custom stylesheet (like CWS.Bootconf) located at C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\Readme.txt. (This file is not present on uninfected systems.) It uses a Registry value named nvstart to re-register the main mswsc10.dll file on startup.

CWS.Dnsrelay.4: A mutation of this variant exists that is like CWS.Dnsrelay.3, but uses the filename mswsc20.dll instead, located at the same place. It hijacks IE to gofreegalleries.com, adds the same custom stylesheet, and uses the hosts file to hijack numerous sites to allhyperlinks.com.

CWS.Msinfo

Variant 9: CWS.Msinfo - running out of ideas

Approx date first sighted: August 22, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=9933
Symptoms: Redirection to Global-Finder.com, hijack reappearing when rebooting, possible errors about a missing file 'msinfo.exe'.
Cleverness: 6/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves lots of Registry editing and some .ini file editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://out.true-counter.com/b/?101 (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Page_URL = http://out.true-counter.com/a/?101 (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Search_URL = http://out.true-counter.com/b/?101 (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://out.true-counter.com/c/?101 (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch = http://out.true-counter.com/b/?101 (obfuscated)
F1 - win.ini: run=C:\WINDOWS\..\PROGRA~1\COMMON~1\MICROS~1\MSINFO\msinfo.exe
F1 - win.ini: run=msinfo.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Internat Conf] \bootconf.exe

This variant, using a file called 'msinfo.exe' to reinstall the hijack on a reboot, appears to have several versions. The first one seemed to malfunction often, as seen in the 'first sighted' link where the file wasn't actually installed, but the reference to it was. The second version probably fixed this a few days later, since people started surfacing that had been hijacked by this thing. Lastly, the third version appeared together with a slightly mutated variant #2 (bootconf.exe).

The MSINFO.EXE is installed in a Windows folder where also the legitimate MSINFO32.EXE file resides. It is ran from win.ini, a method rarely used by programs nowadays. It sets nearly all Start and Search pages from IE to URLs at out.true-counter.com, and reinstates these whenever the system is restarted. Fixing this variant involves resetting all the Registry values changed for IE, editing the autorun values in win.ini and the Registry, and deleting the two files.

CWS.Ctfmon32

Variant 10: CWS.Ctfmon32 - SlawSearch part II

Approx date first sighted: September 22, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=11886
Symptoms: Start page and Search pages changed to www.slawsearch.com, 'Customize Search Assistant' closing after opening it, hijack coming back after a reboot.
Cleverness: 3/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves some Registry editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://www.slawsearch.com/autosearch.html
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://www.slawsearch.com/autosearch.html
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://www.slawsearch.com
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://www.slawsearch.com/autosearch.html
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch = javascript:window.close()
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [CTFMON32.EXE] "C:\WINDOWS\System32\ctfmon32.exe"

This variant surfaced after a quiet time. CWShredder could fix it, but it would return after rebooting the computer. Apart from the new filename 'CTFMON32.EXE' (note that 'CTFMON.EXE' is the real Windows system file) it worked pretty much the same way as CWS.Bootconf: the file loads at startup, resetting homepages and search pages, and then closes. Deleting the file and changing everything back to normal fixes it.

CWS.Tapicfg

Variant 11: CWS.Tapicfg - Msinfo part 2

Approx date first sighted: September 21, 2003
Log reference: http://boards.cexx.org/viewtopic.php?t=2075
Symptoms: Slow scrolling in IE, redirections to luckysearch.net, hijack returning on reboot, info32.exe errors.
Cleverness: 8/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves quite some Registry editing, win.ini editing and hosts file editing. The style sheet files are marked read-only, system and hidden.
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer,SearchURL = http://acc.count-all.com/--/?oaoca (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://acc.count-all.com/--- /?oaoca (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://acc.count-all.com/-- /?oaoca (obfuscated)
F1 - win.ini: run=C:\WINDOWS\..\PROGRA~1\COMMON~1\MICROS~1\MSINFO\info32.exe
O1 - Hosts: 3510794918 auto.search.msn.com
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Tapicfg.exe] C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\tapicfg.exe
O19 - User stylesheet: C:\WINDOWS\Web\win.def
O19 - User stylesheet: C:\WINDOWS\default.css

This hijack consists of only one file, that duplicates itself in two places (info32.exe and tapicfg.exe) and acts different depending on its filename. It drops two style sheets on the system, hijacks to acc.count-all.com which redirects to luckysearch.net, and reinstalls the hijack on each reboot. The hosts file redirection also hijacks any mistyped domains to luckysearch.net.
Though a file determining its actions depending on the filename is very bad programming, it surprised me somewhat because it works so well.

CWS.Tapicfg.2: A mutation of this variant exists that uses the filename soundmx.exe, and hijacks IE to globe-finder through a redirection page at in.webcounter.cc. Possibly the same file is loaded as fntldr.exe from WIN.INI. A hosts file redirection of auto.search.msn.com to globe-finder is installed. Two custom stylesheets named tips.ini and hh.htt are installed.

CWS.Svcinit

Variant 12: CWS.Svcinit - Sneaky little fellow

Approx date first sighted: September 10, 2003
Log reference: Reconstruction
Symptoms: Homepage changed to xwebsearch.biz and 'http:///', hijack returning on reboot or even sooner.
Cleverness: 9/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves lots of Registry editing, ini file editing and a process killer.
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
Running processes:
C:\WINDOWS\System32\SVCINIT.EXE

R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http:///
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http:///
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http:////
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://xwebsearch.biz
F1 - win.ini: run=C:\WINDOWS\svcinit.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\RunServices: [SVC Service] C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\svcinit.exe
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [mssys] C:\WINDOWS\mssys.exe
Additional identifying line in StartupList log:
Checking Windows NT UserInit:

[HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WinLogon]
UserInit=C:\WINNT\System32\userinit.exe,C:\WINNT\System32\svcinit.exe

This variant was somewhat surprising, because fixing all the items in HijackThis didn't remove it completely - it came back after a reboot (on Windows 2000 and XP). Only after a user had posted a StartupList log it became clear that this hijacker used another additional method of running at boot, besides the two visible in the HijackThis log. Terminating the running process, and deleting the three autorun values fixed it. Also, mssys.exe is possibly involved in this hijack.

CWS.Svcinit.2: A mutation of this variant exists, which uses the filename svcpack.exe instead. It hijacks to http:/// (sic) and uses the same autostarting methods as the first version. Possibly it also drops the file SVCHOST.OLD for unknown purposes.

CWS.Svcinit.3: Possibly, a mutation of this variant exists, which hijacks to xwebsearch.biz and http:/// (sic), as well as installing a hosts file redirection of several dialer sites to searchmeup.com.

CWS.Svcinit.4: A mutation of this variant exists, that hijacks IE to sex.free4porno.net, and adds porn bookmarks to the IE Favorites and on the desktop. It reinstalls from a file c:\windows\svchost.exe (not a valid Windows system file, which is in the system32 folder), running at startup using the name Online Service. It also uses the trojan file msin32.dll for unknown reasons.

CWS.Msoffice

Variant 13: CWS.Msoffice - HTA exploit revisited

Approx date first sighted: October 12, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=13362
Symptoms: Homepage changed to searchdot.net, hijack coming back after a reboot, slow scrolling and text typing in IE.
Cleverness: 7/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves some Registry editing, and using a command prompt to delete the files.
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://www.searchdot.net
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://www.searchdot.net
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Page_URL = http://www.searchdot.net
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,CustomizeSearch = http://www.searchdot.net
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://www.searchdot.net
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Msoffice] C:\WINDOWS\Fonts\msoffice.hta
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [Msoffice] C:\WINDOWS\Fonts\msoffice.hta

This variant uses a .hta script file to reinstall the hijack on a reboot. The msoffice.hta file is hard to find because the Fonts folder is a special folder for Windows, setup to hide all files in it that are not font files. Thus, a command prompt is needed to be able to see and delete the file. Deleting the file and resetting the IE home and search pages fixes the hijack.

CWS.Msoffice.:2 A mutation of this variant exists that hijacks IE to sexpatriot.net and royalsearch.net, installs a hosts file hijack of two porn sites to 64.246.33.179, and reinstalls through a file named fonts.hta using the name AdobeFonts.

CWS.Msoffice.:3 A mutation of this variant exists that hijacks IE to supersearch.com and hugesearch.net, and reinstalls through a file named fonts.hta using the name TrueFonts. It also changes the DefaultPrefix and WWW Prefix to redirect all URLs through hugesearch.net.

CWS.Dreplace

Variant 14: Dreplace - Just a BHO... OR IS IT?

Approx date first sighted: October 12, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=13497
Symptoms: Redirections to xwebsearch.biz and 213.159.117.233, hijack returning on reboot
Cleverness: 3/10 , 10/10 on second version
Manual removal difficulty: Involves some Registry editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer,SearchURL = http:///
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http:///
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http:///
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,HomeOldSP = http://xwebsearch.biz/
O1 - Hosts: 213.159.117.233 sitefinder.verisign.com
O2 - BHO: HTML Source Editor - {086AE192-23A6-48D6-96EC-715F53797E85} - C:\WINDOWS\System32\DReplace.dll

This variant installs a BHO with unknown purpose, though it's probable the BHO is there to ensure xwebsearch.biz is set as your homepage on reboot. It redirects the Verisign Sitefinder, so all mistyped domains are redirected to 213.159.117.233.

CWS.Dreplace.2: There is a second version of this variant that used the most dastardly trick I have ever seen in a piece of malware. It changed the dreplace.dll so fixing it with either HijackThis or CWShredder will cause your entire system to fail on Windows 98, 98SE and ME! The hijack is the same as the first version for almost all other aspects, and both HijackThis and CWShredder have been updated to circumvent the problem.

CWS.Mupdate

Variant 15: Mupdate - Turning up everywhere

Approx date first sighted: October 13, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=13613
Symptoms: Homepage changing to searchv.com, redirections to runsearch when mistyping URLs, *.masspass.com in the Trusted Zone, hijack returning on a reboot.
Cleverness: 9/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves some Registry editing and lots of ini file editing.
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page=http://www.searchv.com/search.html
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page=http://www.searchv.com/
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar=http://www.searchv.com/search.html
F0 - system.ini: Shell=explorer.exe mupdate.exe
F1 - win.ini: run=mupdate.exe
F2 - REG:system.ini: Shell=explorer.exe mupdate.exe
O1 - Hosts: 209.66.114.130 sitefinder.verisign.com
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [sys] regedit -s sys.reg
O15 - Trusted Zone: *.masspass.com

This variant isn't very common, but it makes up for this by being very persistent in its existance. It's ran from 3 places at boot, as well as merging a .reg file that reinstalls the hijack, and adding an adult site to the Trusted Zone. It also redirects any mistyped domains to runsearch.com.

CWS.Addclass

Variant 16: CWS.Addclass - Halloween edition

Approx date first sighted: October 30, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.techguy.org/showthread.php?threadid=175680
Symptoms: Redirections through ehttp.cc before reaching pages, IE homepage/searchpage changing to rightfinder.net, hijack returning on reboot.
Cleverness: 4/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves lots of Registry editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://www.rightfinder.net/search/
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://www.rightfinder.net/hp/
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://www.rightfinder.net/search/
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Search_URL = http://www.rightfinder.net/search/
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [AddClass] C:\WINDOWS\TEMP\ADDCLASS.EXE
O13 - DefaultPrefix: http://ehttp.cc/?
O13 - WWW Prefix: http://ehttp.cc/?

This one just surfaced when a sample (and thus a CWShredder update) was found for it. The hijack involves AddClass.exe installing the hijack and reinstalling it on reboot. It also changes the DefaultPrefix, WWW Prefix and a non-functional 'www.' prefix which makes each URL you type without 'http://' in front of it redirect through ehttp.cc before reaching the correct destination. IOW, they log everywhere you go. Luckily they are even kind enough to provide a uninstall for this 'Enhanced HTTP protocol' at their site here. This will only partially remove CWS.Addclass though.

CWS.Googlems

Variant 17: CWS.Googlems - We have a payload!

Approx date first sighted: November 1, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=16643
Symptoms: IE pages changed to http://www.idgsearch.com/, hijack reinstalled on reboot and when running Windows Media Player.
Cleverness: 7/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves some Registry editing, and reinstalling Windows Media Player
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://www.idgsearch.com/
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://www.idgsearch.com/
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://www.idgsearch.com/
R1 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Search_URL = http://www.idgsearch.com/
O2 - BHO: GoogleMS Search Helper - {79369D5C-2903-4b7a-ADE2-D5E0DEE14D24} - C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\GoogleMS.dll

This variant is first of its kind, since an important development was observed here: the Windows Media Player executable was deleted and replaced by the trojan. This file reinstalled the hijack when ran. No other variants modify or delete system files, but this one seems to.
It also installs a BHO that reinstalls hijack on a reboot. Deleting GoogleMS.dll and reinstalling Windows Media Player fixes the hijack.

CWS.Googlems.2: A mutation of this variant exists that hijacks IE to idgsearch.com and 2020search.com, installs a BHO named 'Microsoft SearchWord' using the filename SearchWord.dll in the same location as the first version. It also adds *.xxxtoolbar.com to the Trusted Zone.

CWS.Googlems.3: A mutation of this variant exists that hijacks IE to idgsearch.com, installs a BHO named 'Microsoft SearchWord' using the filename Word10.dll in the location C:\Documents And Settings\[username]\Application Data\Microsoft\Office.
This version can also be loaded by a fake Notepad.exe file in the Windows system folder. The fake file has an icon different from the default notepad one.

CWS.Googlems.4: A mutation of this variant exists that hijacks IE to idgsearch.com, 2020search.com and possibly coundnotfind.com. It installs a hosts file hijack to 69.56.223.196 (idgsearch.com), redirecting from several CWS affiliate domains (!), one Lop.com domain, one misspelled Spywareinfo domains (hehe) and several porn domains. It installs a BHO named 'Microsoft Excel' using the filename Excel10.dll, located at the same place as the third mutation. It also adds *.xxxtoolbar.com and *.teensguru.com to the Trusted Zone.

CWS.Xplugin

Variant 18: CWS.Xplugin - 'Helping' you search the web

Approx date first sighted: November 11, 2003
Log reference: Not visible in HijackThis log!
Symptoms: Some links in Google results redirecting to umaxsearch.com or coolwebsearch.com every now and then
Cleverness: 10/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves some Registry editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
Not visible in HijackThis log!

This variant is the first one that is not visible in a HijackThis log. It works invisible, changing links from Google search results to other pages. It took a while to find out how this variant works, since it doesn't use any of the standard locations.
A file xplugin.dll is installed, which creates a new protocol filter for text/html. In normal english, this means it reads most of the web pages downloaded to your browser. It also randomly alters some links in Google search results to pages on umaxsearch.com and coolwebsearch.com. It claims to be made by something called TMKSoft.
It is unknown if deleting the file has no side-effects, but using CWShredder or running regsvr32 /u c:\windows\system32\xplugin.dll (may vary depending on Windows version) fixes the hijack completely.

CWS.Alfasearch

Variant 19: CWS.Alfasearch - Child's Play

Approx date first sighted: November 5, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=16730
Symptoms: IE pages changed to alfa-search.com, possibly porn sites being redirected to 216.200.3.32 (alfa-search.com), error message about a 'runtime error' at startup, 4 porn bookmarks added to favorites (one possible child porn).
Cleverness: 1/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves a little Registry editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://www.alfa-search.com/search.html
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://www.alfa-search.com/home.html
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://www.alfa-search.com/home.html
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://www.alfa-search.com/search.html
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchURL,(Default) = http://www.alfa-search.com/search.html
O4 - Global Startup: MSupdate.exe

Possibly the most simple CWS variant since CWS.Datanotary, this hijack only does the basic stuff: changes your IE homepage and search pages, adds porn bookmarks, and pops up a bogus error message at startup.
Deleting MSupdate.exe from the All Users Startup group, deleting the porn bookmarks and resetting the IE homepage and search pages fixed the hijack.
The MSupdate.exe file is capable of installing a hosts file hijack as well, but doesn't seem to do this.

CWS.Alfasearch.2: A mutation of this variant exists, that hijacks IE to www.find-itnow.com, drops 7 porn bookmarks in the IE Favorites, and causes error messages concerning 'Win Min' at system shutdown, as well as bogus runtime errors at system startup. It drops a fake Winlogon.exe file in the 'All Users' Startup group of the Start Menu, or in the Startup group of the current user. The file is always running, and hard to remove. If CWShredder repeatedly reports removing this variant, it cannot remove winlogon.exe. To remove this file manually, move it out of the Startup folder, restart, and then delete the file.

CWS.Alfasearch.3: A mutation of this variant exists, that hijacks IE to www.alfa-search.com, and reinstalls by running an encryped VBS script from three places in the Registry, named rundll32.vbe using the name Windows Security Assistant. It also installs a custom stylesheet named readme.txt in the Windows sytem folder, drops 9 porn bookmarks in the IE Favorites and 6 on the desktop, and installs a hosts file hijack of 8 major search engines and one porn site to 64.124.222.169 (alfa-search.com).

CWS.Loadbat

Variant 20: CWS.Loadbat - Dastardly

Approx date first sighted: November 1, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=16132
Symptoms: DOS window flashing by at system startup, IE pages being hijacked to ie-search.com, redirection to 'FLS' or Umaxsearch when mistyping URLs or visiting porn sites
Cleverness: 9/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves some Registry editing and deleting a few files
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://ie-search.com/srchasst.html (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://ie-search.com/home.html (obfuscated)
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = c:\windows\hp.htm
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Default_Search_URL = http://ie-search.com/home.html (obfuscated)
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://ie-search.com/srchasst.html (obfuscated)
O1 - Hosts: 206.161.200.105 auto.search.msn.com
O1 - Hosts: 206.161.200.105 sitefinder.verisign.com
O1 - Hosts: 206.161.200.105 sitefinder-idn.verisign.com
O1 - Hosts: 206.161.200.103 www.smutserver.com
O1 - Hosts: 206.161.200.103 www1.smutserver.com
O1 - Hosts: 206.161.200.103 www2.smutserver.com
[...]
O1 - Hosts: 206.161.200.103 www29.smutserver.com
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Windows Shell Library Loader] load shell.dll /c /set -- by windows setup --
O4 - HKLM\..\Run: [Win64 Compatibility Check] load win64.drv /c /set -- by windows setup --

Overlooked at first, this CWS variant used a clever way of reloading the hijack by making it look like some other file (shell.dll or win64.drv) was doing it, when in fact it was just a LOAD.BAT file merging a .reg file.

The second variant added a hosts file hijack of auto.search.msn.com and the Verisign Sitefinder to something called 'FLS' that linked to Umaxsearch, as well as hijacking smutserver.com domains to another porn site.

To remove this manually, killing the autostarts and removing hp.htm , load.bat and srch.reg from the Windows folder along with resetting the IE homepage/search page is enough.

CWS.Qttasks

Variant 21: CWS.Qttasks - Even more simple than CWS.Alfasearch

Approx date first sighted: November 23, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=18331
Symptoms: IE pages being changed to start-space.com
Cleverness: 2/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves some Registry editing
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://www.start-space.com/
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://www.start-space.com/
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,HomeOldSP = http://www.start-space.com/
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [QuickTime Task] c:\windows\qttasks.exe

Mimicking the legit 'QuickTime Task' autorun entry in the Registry (which is in the HKLM hive), this variant loaded at startup and changed only the Start Page to start-space.com. That's it. I'm serious. *Yawn*

CWS.Msconfd

Variant 22: CWS.Msconfd - Finally using rundll32

Approx date first sighted: November 26, 2003
Log reference: Reconstruction, local test
Symptoms: IE pages being changed to webcoolsearch.com, bogus error message about msconfd.dll at startup, porn bookmarks added to Favorites (some possibly childporn)
Cleverness: 7/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves quite some Registry editing and deleting porn bookmarks, plus struggling to unload the dll which is always in memory
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer,SearchURL = http://webcoolsearch.com/
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://webcoolsearch.com/
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://webcoolsearch.com/
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://webcoolsearch.com/
O4 - HKLM\..\RunServices: [Desktop] rundll32.exe msconfd,Restore ControlPanel
Additional line from StartupList log:
Load/Run keys from Registry:

HKLM\..\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows: AppInit_DLLs=msconfd.dll

This is the first variant to use a dll file together with the Windows rundll32 file. This makes it a little harder to find the culprit msconfd.dll, responsible for hijacking IE to webcoolsearch.com and adding 11 adult bookmarks to IE, of which 4 are possibly child porn sites.

Deleting the autorun entry, resetting IE and deleting the porn bookmarks fixes most of the hijack. Removing msconfd.dll involves renaming the file, restarting the system and deleting the renamed file.

CWS.Msconfd.2: A mutation of this variant exists, that uses the filename avpcc.dll or ctrlpan.dll that hooks into Windows in the same way as the first version. This version also deletes all the bookmarks in the IE Favorites folder, before replacing them with porn bookmarks.

CWS.Msconfd.3: A mutation of this variant exists, that uses the filename cpan.dll.


CWS.Therealsearch

Variant 23: CWS.Therealsearch - Misery travels in pairs

Approx date first sighted: November 29, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=19137
Symptoms: IE pages changed to therealsearch.com, porn bookmarks added to IE Favorites, porn sites appearing in IE autocomplete
Cleverness: 4/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves lots of Registry editing, a process killer, and deleting bookmarks
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
Running processes:
C:\WINDOWS\quicken.exe
C:\WINDOWS\editpad.exe

R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer,SearchURL = http://www.therealsearch.com/sp.php
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://www.therealsearch.com/sp.php
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://www.therealsearch.com/sp.php
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://www.therealsearch.com/hp.php
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://www.therealsearch.com/sp.php
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [quicken] C:\WINDOWS\quicken.exe
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [editpad] C:\WINDOWS\editpad.exe

This variant of CWS appeared to be worse than it actually was at first. Since it had two running processes, it looked like the Peper virus, that was very hard to remove. Luckily these two processes didn't behave like that. The smallest one quicken.exe downloaded and ran the second one editpad.exe (like CWS.Aff.Iedll does) and hijacked IE to therealsearch.com, as well as setting themselves to run at startup.

To remove this variant a process killer is needed to kill editpad.exe and quicken.exe and deleting the files, as well as resetting the IE homepage/search pages and possibly removing CWS.Aff.Tooncomics.2 which can be downloaded by this variant.

CWS.Therealsearch.2: There is a mutation of this variant that hijacks to my.search (sic), that also the filenames c:\windows\winrar.exe and c:\windows\waol.exe.


CWS.Control

Variant 24: CWS.Control - Dude, where's my Control Panel?

Approx date first sighted: December 7, 2003
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=23210
Symptoms: IE pages changed to windoww.cc, super-spider.com and search2004.net
Cleverness: 3/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves some Registry editing, and restoring a file from the Windows Setup CD for Windows 9x/ME
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://www.windowws.cc/ sp.htm?id=9
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Page = http://www.windowws.cc/ sp.htm?id=9
R0 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Start Page = http://www.windowws.cc/ hp.htm?id=9
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,HomeOldSP = http://super-spider.com
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [Windows Control] C:\WINDOWS\CONTROL.EXE
O4 - HKCU\..\RunServices: [Windows Control] C:\WINDOWS\CONTROL.EXE

This variant is fairly simple, if it wouldn't drop a file in the Windows folder that overwrites a system file in Windows 9x/ME - it is possible your Control Panel will not be functioning normally after being infected with this CWS variant, and you need to use the System File Checker (SFC.EXE) to restore control.exe from your Windows Setup CD. Windows NT/2000/XP does not have this problem with this variant.

CWS.Control.2: A mutation of this variant exists that is identical in every way, but where control.exe always stays in memory.

CWS.Control.3: A mutation of this variant exists that uses random filenames and random startups.


CWS.Olehelp

Variant 25: CWS.Olehelp - Who wants some bookmarks?

Approx date first sighted: January 4, 2004
Log reference: http://forums.spywareinfo.com/index.php?showtopic=27573
Symptoms: IE hijacked to omega-search.com, lots and lots of bookmarks added to IE Favorites
Cleverness: 3/10
Manual removal difficulty: Involves a little bit of Registry editing, and deleting lots of files
Identifying lines in HijackThis log:
Running processes:
C:\WINDOWS\OLEHELP.EXE

R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer,SearchURL = http://www.omega-search.com/go/panel_search.html
R1 - HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main,Search Bar = http://www.omega-search.com/go panel_search.html
R0 - HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search,SearchAssistant = http://www.omega-search.com/go/panel_search.html
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [olehelp] C:\WINDOWS\olehelp.exe
O4 - HKCU\..\Run: [svchost] C:\WINDOWS\olehelp.exe

This variant is pretty simple. It autoruns a file named olehelp.exe at startup from the Registry, which changes the IE homepage/search page to omega-search.com, and adds a mind-boggling 107 bookmarks to the IE Favorites, of which 14 are porn.

Killing the autostart and deleting the file + bookmarks fixes this.

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