>> Baidu found with malicious files in Vietnam
A research team from the Hacker Vietnam Association (HVA) has recently found that the TTPlayer music player and HiPlayer video viewer, two software applications Baidu is trying out in Vietnam, are an adware program, or an illegal advertisement-generating software; and a trojan, which secretly hides on the host computer and can automatically download more viruses or malicious files to users’ computers.
Both of the two will be automatically installed into a user’s computer before changing their homepage into an ad page without their permission, and opening a ‘backdoor,’ which will enable hackers to take control of the host computers via remote access without detection by the victims.
Baidu’s website in Vietnam, baidu.com.vn, also poses another threat, according to Vo Do Thang, director of Athela internet security training center.
“Users are required to supply full, accurate, and updated personal information when signing up for an account on Baidu’s website,” he said.
“This requirement is in fact intended to collect private information from Vietnamese users so the company can build a customer database which market research companies usually have to earmark a huge sum of money to achieve.”
Thang said Baidu may use this accurate and updated data for commercial purposes, or conducting market research and spamming ads.
“Moreover, with the backdoor installed in users’ computers, Baidu can compile statistics about the location of the internet access in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as the number of Internet-connected computers in each locality,” he added.
Thang thus urged local users not to install any applications from Baidu websites to avoid being affected by the security threats.
“Users should also turn on their antivirus programs. In case of infection, they should download antispyware tools such as Spyware Terminator to remove the malicious files,” he advised.
Local cybercitizens have expressed their fury against the illegal installation of Baidu software on Vietnamese computers.
They have also initiated a move to boycott the Chinese web service on social networks and forums.
“All applications under the Baidu project in Vietnam should be immediately removed,” said a member nicknamed Vanthin76us.
“We should think carefully before installing a free application to protect our personal information.”
Many Internet users also shared stories in which their computers have become infected with the adware.
“My Internet Explorer browser always opens the Baidu website as its homepage, and the icon of Baidu’s hao123 service has appeared everywhere on my PC,” reader Nguyen Hung told Tuoi Tre.
Reader Tran Thanh Hung, who had to reinstall Windows on his computer due to the failure to remove the malicious files, said: “The computer just ran much slower and the browser screen was filled with Chinese characters.”
“I could not run any application, even the Kaspersky antivirus software.”
On the other hand, many Internet experts advised that Vietnamese users have to stay calm and maintain an even view over the issue.
Baidu is in fact an online service just like Yahoo! and Google, so users have the right to use or not use its services, they said.
“If users never visit Baidu websites or use its service, there is no need to worry about the threats.”