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Hackers are continuing to target British workers with a series of specially crafted Trojan horse attacks two weeks after a UK government agency issued an unprecedented security warning. The latest batch of malware again targets a small network of specifically targeted domains in assaults designed to slip under the corporate radar and allow hackers to steal privileged information or launch further attacks from compromised systems.

In the latest attack, email security firm MessageLabs intercepted a small number of emails containing malicious software sent to would-be victims at just four domains. The majority of these 17 emails were bound for addresses at an unnamed international security organisation that was also targeted in a similar attack earlier this month, MessageLabs reports.

Using body text potentially relevant to the target audience, the email encouraged intended recipients to open an attached Word document. The attack exploits a well-known Word macro vulnerability (MS03-050) to inject hostile code, in this case an embedded Trojan, onto vulnerable systems.

MessageLabs reports growing incidents of targeted email attacks against businesses and organisations over the last year. Earlier this month the UK’s National Infrastructure Security Coordination Centre (NISCC) issued a warning about the industrial espionage potential threat posed by these attacks to governments and large corporates. Mark Sunner, Chief Technology Officer at MessageLabs, said: "The motivation behind today’s new email-borne threats is far more sinister than traditional methods of large-scale attacks. New criminal methods show a preference for selecting a particular target, whether an individual or an organisation, to attack for perhaps financial or competitive gain. The architects behind the bespoke Trojan attacks we are witnessing aim to steal confidential corporate information and intellectual property."

"In this evolving environment of customised attacks, organisations must adopt a more holistic approach to email security management; implementing stringent, formalised email security policies, alongside truly multi-layered, proactive technology measures to ensure protection against all known and unknown threats," he added. ®

Infected emails typically contain the subject line "FW : 0627" and body text (as follows) purporting to be from the Times of India:

THE TIMES OF INDIA

Monday, June 27, 2005

China's new JL-2 missile prevents US from the Taiwan affairs

China has successfully flight-tested a submarine-launched missile that U.S. officials say marks a major advance in Beijing's long-range nuclear program. The Bush administration has expressed new worries about China's military buildup. The JL-2 missile was launched from the new submarine, known as the Type 094, said a U.S. official familiar with it.

(Details in the attachment)

Related stories

UK Trojan siege has been running over a year
UK under cyber blitz
Window of exposure lets viruses run rampant
Spammers adopt slippery tactics to bypass ISP defences
Virtual postcard delivers Trojan

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