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Storm worm authors switch tactics

Bogus updates and racy pics fuel botnet

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The hackers behind the Storm worm attack are switching tactics.

The malware infected thousands of computers in January by promising recipients information about the storms ravaging Europe at the time in email messages that directed potential marks towards a malware-infested website. Malicious code on the site attempted to download Trojan horse malware onto unpatched Windows boxes that strayed onto the sites. Compromised machines were used to distribute junk mail - the attack was linked to a huge upsurge in spam.

More recently the gang switched tactics, attempting to trick users into visiting maliciously-constructed websites via bogus electronic greeting card receipts. Surfers straying onto these sites last week were offered bogus Microsoft updates. The "updates" - loaded with Trojan code - attempted to trick gullible users into becoming infected even in cases where their machines are fully patched and up to date. Those duped by the ruse became infected with the Zhelatin-gg, a botnet client containing rootkit functionality.

"This operation is apparently the work of the same gang that did the original 'Storm worm' run in January 2007," Finnish antivirus firm F-Secure reports.

Botnet herders refined these tactics over the weekend via emails promising either racy picture or romance to the lovestruck. With Hurricane Dean bearing down on the low-lying Cayman Islands and Mexico after devastating Jamaica overnight its tempting to speculate that the Storm worm authors might come full circle by the end of the week. ®

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