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More details have emerged about a hacking attack that left MSN's South Korean portal booby trapped with password-pinching malware. The attack targeted subscribers to Lineage, an online game with 4m users, largely in Asia. It's unclear how many users were clobbered by the assault. Police and Microsoft specialists have begun an investigation into the attack.

The site - news.msn.co.kr - is back online following a clean-up operation that removed malware planted on the news pages of the portal. Microsoft is blaming the firm that run the site for failing to apply security patches that would have frustrated the attack. The security breach came to light during a routine security scan by net security firm Websense on Sunday May 29. A similar check on May 27 revealed nothing untoward. Microsoft patched the flaw after the Bank Holiday weekend leaving a minimum three day window of exposure, AP reports.

Websense reports that the malicious code attempted to exploit multiple JavaScript, IE, and other Microsoft vulnerabilities to download a Trojan (called Lineage.dll) onto the PCs of surfers with vulnerable computers visiting the site. "The attempts were launched through an invisible, embedded iframe on the front page of MSN NEWS Korea. Merely visiting the site with a vulnerable browser was enough to become infected, which occurred without the user's knowledge," it added.

Microsoft told AP it hadn't recorded an increase in complaints from subscribers to the $15 a month game following the break-in. ®

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