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Trojan Horses

Malware expert Ed Skoudis discusses Trojan horses, which are computer programs that appear to be benign, but really include hidden malicious code. He outlines different types of Trojan Horses and how to protect against them.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

You might have read the last chapter on backdoors and thought to yourself, "I'd never run a program named Netcat or VNC on my machine, so I'm safe!" Unfortunately, it isn't that easy. Attackers with any modest level of skill will disguise the nasty backdoors we covered in the last chapter or hide them inside of other programs. That's the whole idea of a Trojan horse, which we define as follows:

A Trojan horse is a program that appears to have some useful or benign purpose, but really masks some hidden malicious code.

As you might expect, Trojan horses are called Trojans for short, and the verb referring to the act of planting a Trojan horse is to Trojanize or even simply to Trojan. If you recall your ancient Greek history, you'll remember that the original Trojan horse allowed an army to sneak right through a highly fortified gate. Amazingly, the attacking army hid inside a giant wooden horse offered as a gift to the unsuspecting victims. It worked like a charm. In a similar fashion, today's Trojan horses try to sneak past computer security fortifications, such as firewalls, by employing like-minded trickery. By looking like normal, happy software, Tro-jan horse programs are used for the following goals: Duping a user or system administrator into installing the Trojan horse in the first place. In this case, the Trojan horse and the unsuspecting user become the entry vehicle for the malicious software on the system.

Blending in with the "normal" programs running on a machine. The Trojan horse camouflages itself to appear to belong on the system so users and administrators blithely continue their activity, unaware of the malicious code's presence.

Many people often incorrectly refer to any program that gives remote control of or a remote command shell on a victim machine as a Trojan horse. This notion is mistaken. I've seen people label the VNC and Netcat tools we covered in the last chapter as Trojan horses. However, although these tools can be used as backdoors, by themselves they are not Trojan horses. If a program merely gives remote access, it is just a backdoor, as we discussed in Chapter 5. On the other hand, if the attacker works to disguise these backdoor capabilities as some other benign program, then we are dealing with a true Trojan horse.

Attackers have devised a myriad of methods for hiding malicious capabilities inside their wares on your computer. These techniques include employing simple, yet highly effective naming games, using executable wrappers, attacking software distribution sites, manipulating source code, coopting software installed on your system, and even disguising items using polymorphic coding techniques. As we discuss each of these elements throughout this chapter, remember the attackers' main goal: to disguise their malicious code so that users of the system and other programs running on the system do not realize what the attacker is up to.

In this chapter, we'll discuss both widely used and cutting-edge techniques. Keep in mind, however, that attackers are a creative and devious lot. They use the concepts we'll discover, but tweak them in innumerable ways to achieve maximum subterfuge.

What's in a Name?

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy.

—William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

At the very simplest level of Trojan horse techniques, an attacker might merely alter the name of malicious code on a system so that it appears to belong on that machine. By giving a backdoor program the same name of some other program you'd normally expect to be on your system, an attacker might be able to operate undetected. After all, only the lamest of attackers would run malicious code using the well-known name of that code, such as Netcat or VNC. Don't get me wrong, however. If a really dimwitted bad guy attacks my system and uses techniques that I can easily spot, I'm all for it. That makes my job easier. I'm perfectly happy to catch any attacker when he or she makes a mistake of that magnitude, and, thankfully, I have found several instances of attackers calling a backdoor Netcat or even VNC. However, we can't expect all of our adversaries to make such trivial errors, so let's investigate their naming games in more detail.

Playing with Window Suffixes

One very simple Trojan horse naming technique used by attackers against Windows systems is to trick victims by creating a file name with a bunch of spaces in it to obscure the file's type. As you no doubt know, the three-letter suffix (also known as an "extension") of a file name in Windows is supposed to indicate the file's type and which application should be used to view that file. For example, executables have the .EXE suffix, whereas text files end in .TXT. The information security business has done a good job over the last decade of informing our users not to run executable attachments included in e-mail or those that appear on their hard drive. "Unknown EXE files cause trouble," we lecture our users, with furled eyebrows and a deep voice to emphasize the importance of this lesson. So, given users' fright and awe in the presence of EXE files, how could a malicious executable program be disguised as something benign, such as a simple text file? An attacker could confuse a victim by naming a file with a bunch of spaces before its real suffix, like this:

 just_text.txt   .exe 

That .EXE at the end of the name after all of the spaces makes the program executable, but the unwary user might not notice the .EXE suffix. If users look at such a file with the Windows Explorer file viewer, it'll appear that the file might just be text, as shown in Figure 6.1. For comparison to a benign file, the first line in Figure 6.1 shows a normal text file, with a normal text file icon and a file type of Text Document. Most users would have no qualms about double-clicking such a nice-looking, happy file. The second line, however, is far more evil. It shows an executable file with a name of just_text.txt .exe. Note that the display shows the name of the file as just_text.txt" followed by "...". Those innocent looking dots mean that the file name is actually longer than what is displayed.

Figure 1Figure 6.1 Hiding the EXE extension after several spaces.

Of course the Explorer file viewer shows the second file's type as Application and displays an executable's icon next to the name instead of a text file icon. Still, the vast majority of users would never notice these somewhat subtle distinctions. If this is a huge concern for the attackers, they could even configure the system so that an executable program type's icon actually appears as a .TXT icon. This can be accomplished by altering the icon using one of a variety of tools, such as the free E-Icons program available at http://www.deepgls.com/eicons/. Alternatively, an attacker could choose a file type that is both executable and has an icon that looks quite similar to a text file, such as the Shell Scrap Object file type, with an .SHS extension. These .SHS files are used to bundle together commonly copied and pasted text and pictures, as well as commands, for various Windows programs. The third line of Figure 6.1 shows a typical .SHS file. The fourth line of the figure shows a combination of these techniques: an .SHS file is given a name of just_text.txt .shs, which includes several spaces to make it appear as a .TXT file. You can easily see how a user could get duped into executing this type of file.

Numerous file suffixes could be used to deliver and contain malicious code on a target machine. Table 6.1 shows the different file types developers use to hold binary, scripts, and other types of executable code. Many, but certainly not all, of these script types are tied to Windows machines, as the Windows operating system is freakishly obsessed with a file's type being stored in the suffix. However, the phenomenon is not limited to Windows. On UNIX systems, some program types are also indicated with a suffix, including .SH, .PL, and .rpm files. It's important to note, however, that UNIX doesn't put any special meaning into a file's suffix, unlike Windows. In Windows, the operating system uses the suffix to determine which application to use when opening a document. On UNIX machines, this suffix is just a handy reference for users; UNIX won't run a specific application based merely on the

file suffix. Still, any one of these file types in Table 6.1 could be abused to spread malicious code. For a detailed description of any type of file suffix, you can refer to the very handy Filext Web site, at http:// filext.com/.

Table 6.1 Useful File Extensions to Filter at an Internet Gateway

File Extension

Purpose of this Type of File


Acrobat Plug-in, for extending the capabilities of Adobe's Acrobat file viewing tool.


Batch processing file, used to execute a series of contained commands in sequential order.


Borland package libraries, containing chunks of shared code used in programs developed within the Delphi software language and environment


Compiled HTML Help file, which could include a link that would download and execute malicious code on a victim machine.


Command file, containing scripts or even executables for DOS and Windows systems.


Windows Control Panel Extension, allowing new capabilities in your previously dull and monotonous control panels.


Dynamic Link Library, executable code that is shared by numerous other programs on the system.


Delphi Package Library, used to add bundled together shared libraries of code developed in the Delphi programming environment.


Device driver, used to extend the hardware support of a Windows machine, but could be abused to modify the kernel and completely control the victim machine.


Windows binary executable program.


HyperText application, a file that can run applications from an HTML document.


JavaScript, a scripting language that can be embedded in HTML or run through any JavaScript interpreter, including the Windows Scripting Host built into most Windows systems.


Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) control, used to orchestrate the interaction of several programs on a Windows machine.


Program Information File, used to tell Windows how to run a non-Windows application.


Perl script, a powerful, high-level scripting language supported on most UNIX systems and some Windows machines.


Screen saver program, which includes binary executable code.


Shell Scrap Object file, a format used to hold frequently repeated commands, text, and pictures in Windows programs.


System configuration file, normally used to establish system settings, but could be used by an attacker to reconfigure a victim machine.


VBScript Encoded Script file, used to carry Visual Basic Scripts.


Visual Basic Script, a scripting language built into many Windows machines.


Virtual device driver, a device driver with direct access into a Windows kernel.


Windows Media Audio file, used to store audio data, but has been exploited to carry a buffer overflow designed to execute malicious code embedded in the file.


Windows Script File, designed to carry a variety of Windows script types.


Windows Script Host Settings file, used to configure the script interpreter program on a Windows machine.


Red Hat Package Manager, used to bundle libraries, configuration files, and code for simpler installation on Linux systems.


A UNIX shell script or shell archive file, used to carry sequences of commands for a UNIX shell, usually the bourne shell (sh) or bourne again shell (bash)

There sure are many suffixes that could contain executable code of some form. Your users are not going to be able to memorize every single item in this massive list. Still, they should be wary of the biggies that are most often abused by bad guys, such as .EXE, .COM, .BAT, .SCR, and .VBS.

Mimicking Other File Names

These Trojan horse naming issues go beyond just putting a bunch of spaces between the name and its file extension on Windows systems. We've just barely scratched the surface. Often, to fool a victim, attackers create another file and process with exactly the same name as an existing program installed on the machine, such as the UNIX init process. Init normally starts running all other processes while the system boots up. In this type of naming attack, you could actually see two processes named init running on your system: your normal init that's supposed to be there, and another Trojan horse named init by the attacker. This is a particularly bizarre circumstance, kind of like waking up and finding that you have two noses.

Similarly, on a Windows machine, you could notice that there are two running processes called System Idle Process. A bunch of such naming schemes are possible. Table 6.2 lists common programs expected to be running on Windows and UNIX operating systems whose names are frequently borrowed by attackers for malicious code.

It is hugely important to note the following: There are supposed to be processes running on your machine with these names. Don't freak out if you see a running program named init or winlogon! In all likelihood, these are merely the legitimate programs that should be on your system. If these are legitimate processes, you should not kill them, as your machine requires them to function properly. We're discussing this issue because attackers sometimes impersonate these vital programs using Trojan horses that have the same name.

Of course, the list in Table 6.2 is not comprehensive, as tens of thousands of possible programs and variations would fill this whole book. Still, I want to give you a flavor for the types of Trojan horse naming attacks I'm seeing in the wild in the incidents I handle. If you investigate computer attacks, expect to see these exact names, subtle variations on these names, and a variety of other similar tricks.

I remember a particularly compelling Trojan horse naming attack attempted against me recently. I saw this technique at a SANS security conference, where I run a hacker tools workshop about once per month. In these workshops, student attendees get the opportunity to break into several experimental machines I build and maintain for the class. Students learn the mindset and skills of an attacker, and I get to have fun watching them repeatedly smash into my systems. During one workshop, I received an urgent e-mail from one of my students. The e-mail extolled the virtues of a very exciting new game, named

Table 6.2 Common Names Given to Trojan Horses to Blend in

Name Given to Trojan horse

Operating System

Legitimate Program That the Trojan Horse Is Trying to Look Like



During the UNIX system boot sequence, this process runs first and initiates all other processes running on the box.



This process listens on the network for connection requests for various network services, such as Telnet and FTP servers.



This process runs various programs at pre-scheduled times.



On a UNIX Web server, several copies of this process typically run to respond to HTTP requests.



Typically there is no legitimate process by this name on a Windows box. However, attackers take advantage of the fact that many administrators might expect to see a process with this name.



This executable is Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. On most Windows systems, a spare browser running every once in a while would go unnoticed.



This familiar editor frequently used on Windows systems is an ideal program for an attacker to impersonate. Several backdoor tools attempt to impersonate Notepad.exe.



Attackers sometimes name their Trojan horse processes SCSI, attempting to dupe an administrator into thinking that the program controls the SCSI chain. An administrator will hesitate to kill a process named SCSI for fear that it might disable the hard drive.



Sometimes, attackers name their processes UPS to fool administrators into thinking the program controls the uninterruptible power supply.

Vixens with No Clothes, or VNC for short. The sender detailed all of the enticing blockbuster action in this exciting game, which I was invited to install free of charge! How could any reasonable person pass up such an incredible opportunity? In keeping with the fun atmosphere of the workshop, I decided to take the bait knowingly and installed this supposedly nifty game. However, as you might expect, not only were there no clothes ... there were no vixens either! I watched as the keyboard and mouse on my screen began to move by themselves, while squeals of joy erupted from my attacker on the other side of the computer lab! Of course, this was all just a little game. Real-world attackers might not be so blatant, but this example really helps illustrate the concept of using deceptive naming to achieve installation of a Trojan horse backdoor.

For another more real-world example, check out Figure 6.2. You can see the familiar Windows Task Manager on my Windows 2000 system. By hitting Ctrl-Alt-Delete, selecting Task Manager, and then looking at the Processes tab, I can see the various processes running on my box. The list of Figure 6.2 look pretty reasonable. In particular, you can see that I'm running one instance of the Internet Explorer browser (iexplore.exe).

Figure 2Figure 6.2 Normal Windows Task Manager: Here is what I expect to be running on my Windows 2000 system.

Now, to illustrate a Trojan horse name-based attack, check out Figure 6.3. Here, we see an attacker copying the Netcat program, giving it the rather curious name of iexplore.exe. That's pretty nasty, but rather common. After creating the copy of Netcat, our intrepid attacker, evil dude that he is, sets up a backdoor listener with the copy. The backdoor is waiting with a command shell on TCP port 2222. However, if you look at the Task Manager now, it appears that there is just another copy of iexplore.exe, the Internet Explorer browser, running on my machine.

Figure 3Figure 6.3 Bad guy runs Netcat. Now, the evil attacker creates a copy of Netcat called iexplore.exe and runs a backdoor listening on TCP port 2222.

Users or administrators searching for a malicious process would likely overlook this extra little goodie running on the box, as it looks completely reasonable.

Giving a backdoor a name like iexplore.exe is pretty sneaky. However, an attacker could do something even worse by taking advantage of an interesting characteristic of Windows 2000, XP, and 2003. In these operating systems, the Task Manager won't allow you to kill processes that have certain names.[1] If a process is named winlogon.exe, lsass.exe, or any other name shown in Table 6.3, the system automatically assumes that it is a sensitive operating system process based solely on its name. We'll discuss the interplay between many of these processes in more detail in Chapter 8. These names are all used for very important processes on a Windows machine [2], but attackers can use the exact same name for a backdoor.

Table 6.3 Windows Process Names That Cannot Be Killed with Task Manager

Windows Process Name

Purpose of Legitimate Process with This Name


This is the environment subsystem process, which supports creating and deleting processes and threads, running 16-bit virtual DOS machine processes, and running console windows.


The Local Security Administration Subsystem provides functions associated with user logon and access privileges.


This process is the Windows Service Controller, which is responsible for starting and stopping system services running in the background.


The Session Manager SubSystem on Windows machines is invoked during the boot process. Among numerous other tasks, it starts and supports the programs needed to implement the user interface, including the graphics subsystem and the login processes.


This process manages documents spooled to a printer or fax machine.


This process acts as a host for other processes that use dynamic link libraries (DLLs).


This process includes most kernel-level threads, which manage the underlying aspects of the operating system.

System Idle Process

On a Windows system, this process is just a placeholder to indicate all of the CPU cycles consumed by idle tasks, when no specific other processes have a pressing need.


This process authenticates users on a Windows system by asking for user IDs and passwords, and interacting with other components to verify their validity.


This process is used for management of Windows clients.

If an attacker gives a backdoor a name from Table 6.3, Task Manager will refuse to kill it. The system gets confused, believing the back-door process is really the vital system process. The system is overprotective. To prevent a user from accidentally killing a vital process and making the system unstable, Windows goes overboard by preventing users from killing any process with such a name. To illustrate this concern, in Figure 6.4, I created a copy of Netcat named winlogon.exe, executed it as a backdoor listener, and tried to kill this imposter using Task Manager. The system instantly popped up a dialog box saying, "This is a critical system process. Task Manager cannot end this process." You might think that Windows would be smart enough to differen tiate vital system processes from imposters by looking at the file on the hard drive the process was started from, or even its process ID number. However, Windows doesn't do this, and just assumes that any process named winlogon.exe or lsass.exe must be okay. Therefore, unfortunately, these names are just perfect for Trojan horse backdoors, because they are more difficult for a system administrator to terminate, if they are ever discovered.

Figure 4Figure 6.4 On Windows, backdoors that have the same names as vital system processes cannot be killed by Task Manager.

As an additional concern, under certain circumstances, you might legitimately have multiple copies of both csrss.exe and winlogon.exe running on a machine. If you use Windows Terminal Services or Citrix to allow multiple users to simultaneously log on to virtual desktops on a single Windows machine, each user will have a Csrss.exe and Winl-ogon.exe. So, if there are two or more copies of these two processes running, you might not have been attacked; you're just looking at the processes created for different users. For the other processes listed in Table 6.3, however, only a single instance of the process should show up in Task Manager.

The Dangers of Dot "." in Your Path

Another issue associated with Trojan horse names involves the setting of the path variable for users and administrators. On Windows and UNIX, most running programs, including command shells and even GUIs, have the concept of a path. This variable just contains a list of directories that are searched in order from start to finish when a new program or command name is executed. For example, on my UNIX machine, I can view my path by typing:

 $ echo $PATH 

The default path for users on my UNIX box includes a variety of directories, such as /bin, /usr/bin, /usr/local/bin, and so on. These directories are the locations of the commands commonly run by users on UNIX machines.

On Windows, you can view your path by using the set command and searching for the word Path, as follows:

 C:\> set | find "Path" 

My default path on Windows includes folders such as C:\WinNT\System32, C:\WinNT, and others. Whenever I type a program's name at a command prompt, my system starts combing through the directories in my path, one by one, until it finds the command and runs it. If it cannot find the command in my path, the system responds with an error message, saying that the program or command could not be found.

On UNIX systems, by default, your current working directory, referred to as "." and usually pronounced dot, is not in your path. So, if you change to a directory, and type the name of a program in that directory, you'll get a "command not found" error, even though you are in the same directory as the program you are looking for. This can be frustrating for new UNIX users, but not having the current working directory in your path is a very good thing from a security perspective!

Suppose someone misconfigured your account, and "." was in your path. Also, suppose that an attacker gains low-privileged access to your machine, but hasn't yet conquered superuser privileges on the box. This bad guy could name an evil Trojan horse program Ls, and put it in some world writable directory on the machine. The ls command is used to get a listing of the contents of a directory. With "." in your path, if you ever changed directories into the attacker's trap directory and ran the ls command to get a directory listing, you'd run the evil Trojan horse! This Trojan horse might instantly give the attacker all of your permissions on the machine. If you have superuser privileges, the attacker now has such privileges as well, having successfully launched a privilege escalation attack using a Trojan horse version of ls.

Or, similarly, an attacker could create a backdoor with a name that matches a commonly mistyped command, such as ipconfig. The normal UNIX command for viewing network interface information is ifconfig, with an f instead of a p. However, users sometimes type ipconfig instead, given that a similar command with that name is available on Windows. If I create a Trojan horse named ipconfig on your UNIX machine, I can sit back and wait for an administrator to accidentally type ipconfig while in the wrong directory. For this reason, "." isn't in the path on UNIX machines by default, and you shouldn't reconfigure your shell to add it. In this case, the default path setting for UNIX is quite reasonable. So, do yourself a favor, and leave it as is. Also, if you do have "." in your path, consider removing it by editing the various start up scripts associated with your login shell, which depend on the particular shell you are using.

However, not having "." in your path also means that if you change directories to a place where a program file is located, you cannot just type the program's name to run it. Instead, to run the program, you have to type ./[program_name] to execute the program. So, if the system ever complains that it cannot find a file, but you can see the file in the current working directory using ls, use the "./" notation to start the program. It's not too much of a burden.

This matter differs markedly on Windows systems. In the Windows command shell, the current working directory is implicitly in your path, and you cannot remove it. Even though the set command doesn't show a "." in your path, it's still there, implicitly represented, just because you are using Windows. Therefore, if you change to a directory with an executable inside and then type the executable's name on Windows, the executable runs. The system automatically finds it, because "." is implicitly at the very beginning of your path. Yes, it's convenient, as you don't have to ever mess with the "./" notation. However, having "." in your path is also a security hole.

If an attacker gets low-privileged access to your machine, and then tricks an administrator into running a command, the attacker can escalate privileges. One of the most common tricks attackers utilize in Windows is to create a privilege-escalating Trojan horse named cp. On Windows, the copy command is used to copy a file, and there is no default command named cp. However, users sometimes mistakenly type cp when they try to copy files. If they type cp in a directory where the attacker placed a Trojan horse with that name, the attacker could easily get that user's privileges on the machine.

Unfortunately, you cannot easily remove "." from your path on a Windows machine. It's built into the operating system itself. Happily, the "." comes at the end of your path, so any built-in commands located in their normal directories will be executed instead of a Trojan horse with the same name. Remember, the system searches for commands starting from the beginning of your path, running the first matching program that it finds. Still, mistyping a command name could lead to a privilege escalation attack on a Windows system, so be careful when typing commands with an account with administrator privileges.

Trojan Name Game Defenses

So, in light of these deviously named Trojan horses, what can we do to defend ourselves? First, we must keep the malicious code off of our systems in the first place by employing the antivirus tools described in Chapter 2 and the backdoor defenses described in Chapter 5.

Also, you should be ready to kill suspicious processes that usurp the names of legitimate processes. Even though Task Manager cannot kill processes with certain names, you can deploy a free tool called PsKill from the PsTools package, available for free at http://www.sysinternals.com. PsKill can shut down any running process, regardless of its name. However, be careful with this tool! If you shut down a legitimate process, you could cause your system to be unstable or even create an instant crash. Therefore, you need to research each process of concern in more detail before shutting it down.

To conduct this research, you can use some tools we initially discussed in Chapter 5. Remember our good friends, Lsof and Fport? As you might recall, Fport, run on a regular basis by diligent system administrators, will help you discover strange port usage associated with Trojan horses on your system. For each running process that has an open TCP or UDP port on the network, Fport shows the process ID, process name, port number, and the full pathname of the file that the process ran from on the hard drive. Fport is very simple, yet highly effective. On UNIX machines, you can use the Lsof command to achieve similar functionality to Fport, as we discussed in Chapter 5.

Remember our example in which the attacker renamed Netcat so that it appeared as iexplore.exe? In Figure 6.5, we can see how Fport displays this subterfuge.

Figure 5Figure 6.5 Using Fport. Why is iexplore.exe listening on TCP port 2222 and why is it running from C:\iexplore.exe? That looks like a problem!

Fport tells us that there are a variety of programs using ports on this machine. All of these ports are pretty normal on a Windows machine, except for the one with a Process ID (Pid) of 1084. It's called iexplore.exe, but is listening on TCP port 2222 and running out of C:\iexplore.exe. That just doesn't look right!

Using Fport, we can differentiate between the real browser, which should have a path of C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe, and the attacker's backdoor, which runs from C:\iexplore.exe. Unfortunately, this kind of analysis requires an administrator to be intimately familiar with what is supposed to be running on the system. That way, if a counterfeit pops up, an administrator can quickly identify it and investigate. This can be very difficult, but rock-solid system administrators should have a gut feel for what is installed and running on critical systems. If an experienced sys admin notifies you that "something just doesn't look right with this program," you ignore their concerns at your own peril. Your best bet is to analyze suspect programs in a laboratory environment to determine if they are attempting to access files or the network unexpectedly. In Chapter 11, we'll discuss a recommended laboratory environment and analysis process you can use to pinpoint problematic software.

Another defense for these Trojan naming schemes is to block executable e-mail attachments at your Internet gateway. You should filter out all programs that are potentially executable. These include the familiar EXE programs, but go well beyond that, too. In reality, you should filter out at least all of the program types described in Table 6.1. For more information about these and other file extension types, you should check out the extremely useful File Extension Source Web site at http://filext.com.

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Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020