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Virus writers are tapping into the popularity of online video sites to spread their malware. As well as posting spyware and adware infected files that pose as video clips onto P2P networks, hackers are booby-trapping Windows codecs that are needed to play some video formats with Trojan code or posting viruses that pose as codecs.

David Robinson, UK head of security firm Norman Sandbox, told the BBC that spyware and adware purveyors are producing malware bundles that offer a range of codecs. The tactic is similar to the more familiar ploy of offering so-called browser enhancements that load adware bundles onto the Windows PCs of prospective victims.

Anti-spyware firm Sunbelt Software has identified one supposed codec that claims to have discovered security problems on a victim's PC in a bid to bully users into buying so-called clean up software that is itself infected by ad-ware. Hackers are trying to get round basic anti-virus defences by writing code that directs users to visit sites containing malware rather than directly including malicious code in their packages.

David Emm, senior technology consultant at anti-virus firm Kaspersky Labs, said that as well as P2P networks Web 2.0 sites such as YouTube and MySpace were ripe for exploitation. ®

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