Dangerous rootkit collecting data on rise

14 01 2008

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Security experts are warning about a stealthy Windows virus that steals login details for online bank accounts. In the last month, the malicious program has racked up about 5,000 victims – most of whom are in Europe. The malicious program is a type of virus known as a rootkit and it tries to overwrite part of a computer’s hard drive called the Master Boot Record (MBR). Once installed the virus, dubbed Mebroot by Symantec, usually downloads other malicious programs, such as keyloggers, to do the work of stealing confidential information. Most of these associated programs lie in wait on a machine until its owner logs in to the online banking systems of one of more than 900 financial institutions.

The Russian virus-writing group behind Mebroot is thought to have created the torpig family of viruses that are known to have been installed on more than 200,000 systems. This group specialises in stealing bank login information. Security firm iDefense said Mebroot was discovered in October but started to be used in a series of attacks in early December. Between 12 December and 7 January, iDefense detected more than 5,000 machines that had been infected with the program. As it installs through security holes in Microsoft Explorer, it’s just another reason to use Firefox or Opera…

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