Trojan horse hacks AOL passwords

Net users warned to be on the look out for rogue spam

A UK security firm is warning Net users not to open files labelled "picture.exe" unless they come from a trusted source because of a rogue email attachment that steals user names and passwords before sending them to a Chinese address. According to Network Associates, the Trojan horse -- a malicious, security-breaking program disguised as something benign -- is being propagated by spam and scours hard drives to collect Web browser histories as well as AOL user names and passwords. The sinister twist in the tale is that no-one appears to know what happens to the information once it has been emailed to the mysterious Chinese address. Nor is anyone sure of the true scale of the problem but the Berkshire-based security company did confirm that it had logged a number of calls about it. According to Network Associates' antivirus consultant, Jack Clark, the motive behind the attack still isn't clear. "It's more a demonstration of what can be done," he said. "Once inside a PC, a Trojan could delete files -- it could, in fact, do anything at all. Luckily, this one doesn't, but I do expect to see more of this kind of thing in the future." "People should take the security implications of this very seriously," he added. "This is the first time in my experience that a Trojan Horse has been distributed to Net users in this way. People should be very worried about running executable files from untrusted sources," he said. A spokesperson for AOL said he didn't know of any reports of the Trojan Horse, dubbed "URLsnoop" by Network Associates, from users in the UK. The virus came to light a couple of days ago. Further information can be found at: http://beta.nai.com/public/stand_alone/picture.htm ®

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