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A Trojan horse-type computer virus called Phatbot can steal credit card numbers and launch denial of service attacks on Web sites.

The new virus made its debut on the Internet on Friday (18 March), clogging bandwidth, stealing personal data and initiating denial of service attacks.

Phatbot is a variant of a Agobot, a big family of IRC bots. It can steal personal information such as email addresses, credit card numbers, PayPay details and software licensing codes. It forwards this information using a peer-to-peer (P2P) network, rather than IRC channels exploited by its predecessors. Earlier versions of the bug go by monikers such as Phat, Backdoor.Agobot.fo and Gaobot, according to F-Secure.

Phatbot can also kill any anti-intrusion devices and give people a false sense of security in order to get inside a network and exploit vulnerabilities, F-Secure says.

Phatbot inserts backdoors which can be used to perform distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks aimed at shutting down Web sites including those of German Internet hosting company Schlund, US telecoms firm XO and Stanford University. The bug also terminates processes belonging to competing malware such as MSBlast.

F-Secure notes that the code running behind Phatbot indicates that this version was not made by the original Agobot backdoor author TheAgo, but by a different writer who got the source code of this backdoor.

"Phatbot is causing quite a bit of stir over here," said Conor Flynn, technical director of US e-security company Rits. "The US Department of Homeland Security sent a number of companies an emergency release about the worm which was then leaked anonymously to The Washington Post," he told ElectricNews.Net. The potential impact of Phatbot on users is much bigger than with previous worms and viruses ,vecause it can harvest passwords, product registration codes and credit card numbers and then send this information back to the authors, he said.

So far, Phatbot infections are limited and some e-security companies are still rating it low-to-medium risk, Flynn says. "However, once a critical mass builds, especially through its use of other backdoors left open, Phatbot is really going to become a problem."

Phatbot can also end standard security processes run by anti-virus programs and firewalls, according to Niall Browne, security architect at Entropy, an Irish Internet security company. "This Agobot variant is not that malicious in that it won't delete files," he said.

"What is interesting are the 600 processes that it can affect once it is inside a network," he said. "It exploits well known ports but once it is inside a network it may not get out again because of the particular ports that it is using and because of that it is fairly easy to contain."

© ENN

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