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Malware authors unleash bird flu-themed Trojan

Sick twist to social engineering

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Today brings further proof that no human disaster these days arises without been exploited by internet ne'er-do-wells. Hot on the heels of a spam campaign punting Tamiflu, the drug believed most effective at protecting humans from the potentially-lethal H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, comes a piece of malware designed to tap into topical concerns about the disease.

The Naiva-A Trojan masquerades as a Word document containing information about the bird flu epidemic in order to dupe unwitting Windows users into opening the maliciously constructed file. Once executed, the malware uses two Word macros to run and install a second item of malicious code, Ranky-FY, onto infected PCs. Ranky-FY gives hackers the ability to control compromised PCs.

Infectious code normally arrives in user's email in-boxes at an attachment in spam email messages with subject lines such as "Outbreak in North America" or "What is avian influenza (bird flu)?" both of which refer to a disease experts fear could become a pandemic, and spread further around the world following deaths in Asia.

The malware is not spreading widely and therefore poses only a modest threat. Anti-virus firms say the Trojan attack mounted by the Naiva-A Trojan illustrates the dangers of opening attachments in unsolicited emails. "Unfortunately, we were expecting something like this. This is not the first time, and won’t be the last, that writers of malicious code have taken advantage of people’s misfortune and anxieties to spread their Trojans or worms," said Luis Corrons, director of PandaLabs. "Fortunately, in the case of this threat, it does not seem to be extremely dangerous, due to the means of infection it uses. However, we must not underestimate it, given the success rate of social engineering techniques to spread malware." ®

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