Malware poses as CNN news alert

Headline alert

Virus writers have created a worm which poses as breaking news alerts. Crowt-A's subject line and attachment share the same name, but continually change to mirror the front-page headline on CNN's website. The message text is also lifted from CNN as part of a social engineering technique designed to trick users into believing infected emails are pukka.

Windows users induced into clicking on the infected attachment surrender control of their PCs to crackers. Crowt-A installs a keylogger which captures sensitive data, such as online banking login details, and forwards it to attackers. Infected machines are also turned into relay stations for the worm, spewing copies of it to email addresses harvested from infected PCs. Few instances of the worm have been spotted thus far. Crowt-A is noteworthy in marking an evolution of social engineering tricks, rather than for the relatively low risk it poses.

"Virus writers are always looking for new tricks to entice innocent computer users into running their malicious code; this latest ploy feeds on people's desire for the latest news," said Carole Theriault, security consultant at Sophos. "Many people subscribe to legitimate email news updates, but the message is simple - businesses need to makes sure their anti-virus detection is constantly updated and users need to be suspicious of all unsolicited email whether it's promising celebrity pictures or news updates." ®

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