Spyware fighters go after MP3 search site

Two watchdogs ask the feds to take on FastMP3Search.com.ar, which they allege is a front for malicious software.

Two antispyware watchdogs are urging federal regulators to take action against a music search Web site that they say is a front for malicious software.

FastMP3Search.com.ar, registered in Argentina, advertises itself as a search service for music files, but instead tricks people into loading a host of malicious applications onto their PC and opens computers up to further cyberattacks, according to StopBadware.org and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

"In the past year, we've come across dozens of malicious programs available on hundreds of Web sites, and without question, the FastMP3Search.com.ar plug-in tops our list of the worst actors," said John Palfrey, co-director of the StopBadware coalition.

StopBadware and the CDT said they will file a joint complaint against the Web site with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Thursday. StopBadware.org is an initiative, backed by Sun Microsystems, Google and Lenovo, that aims to create a blacklist of malicious software. The CDT is a watchdog group that runs the Anti-Spyware Coalition.

The music search site asks people to install a plug-in to be able to download MP3 files. This plug-in is actually a cocktail of malicious software that contains adware, Trojan horses and disables the Microsoft Windows firewall, according to StopBadware and the CDT.

"They've combined so many bad things in a single bundle. It's a parade of horribles," Palfrey said.

In tests of FastMP3Search.com.ar, StopBadware was unable to download any MP3 files from the site, the group said.

So far, the consumer protection group has not succeeded in tracking down the owner or operator of FastMP3Search.com.ar. However, it is hoping the FTC can determine who is behind the site and where they are located, a representative for StopBadware said.

"The FTC has had success in working with other governments to help crack down on malicious Web sites and applications," the representative said. StopBadware and the CDT are asking the agency to end the Web site's practices.

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