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Viruses and music, lethal harmony

Viruses and music, lethal harmony

Web – It is known that as the functionality and complexity of the software increases, the risk for users of running into security problems also increases exponentially.

It has been since the days of Word macro-viruses that users have learned to be wary not only of executable files but also of other formats which, in order to be launched, require the intermediation of an external program: the most recent example is the appearance of the first virus for Flash.

In the wake of these concerns, security experts have now set their sights on the most common media files, such as music. According to some, in fact, these could turn into Trojan horses and integrate malicious scripts. This would be possible because many of the most popular software players, including Windows Media Player and RealPlayer, are able to interpret Web addresses and small scripts within multimedia files.

On the well-known BugTraq security mailing list, someone has already reported the existence of a music file which, once opened, generates a series of pop-up windows advertising a pornographic site. Experts argue that integrating malicious scripts that can self-reproduce and do damage into these windows could be too short.

Some antivirus companies, including Trend Micro, and some direct stakeholders, such as Microsoft and RealNetworks, are already studying the problem and looking for solutions that, in the future, can protect users from reproducing files of which they do not know the source.

For the moment – the experts advise – no alarmism: in fact, if the problem is concrete, users are not in immediate danger.

A first move that software houses could make, according to a Security Focus expert, is to give users the ability to disable unnecessary functionality included in their players, including the dangerous ability to execute embedded code. In the meantime, the more prudent suggest, it is better to stay with your eyes open.