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Trojan-fuelled botnet menaces UK eBay users

Auction giant guards against attack

Website security in corporate America

Updated Security researchers have discovered a sophisticated botnet attack targeting eBay customers, particularly those in the UK.

The attack, first identified last week, uses a sophisticated Trojan to infect surfers that stray onto hacked Websites. It then uses compromised computers to mount a sophisticated distributed attack on eBay accounts in an effort to steal personal financial information. The brute force attack also attempts to alter settings in order to place sold items in the wrong hands.

eBay said that systems it already had in place limit the impact of the attack. The online auction house said it is working together with security firms to protect users against the latest assault, which is based on 'brute forcing' techniques that have been "built into bots for years".

"This it is not a new practice. It’s a technique we are well aware of and eBay has many systems in place to detect this type of activity. Our systems detect brute force as well as cross site scripts, and actively monitor for account irregularities," eBay said in a statement.

"We have analysed the malware related to this particular botnet and provided information to the major anti-virus vendors, including McAfee, Panda and NOD32, who have already provided protections to their customers. Other Anti-Virus vendors are expected to incorporate these protections as soon as possible."

The auction giant added that while it has taken steps to make its systems secure, users also need to play their part in keeping their systems secure.

"eBay’s online security team also has specific programs in place that constantly evaluate known botnets and track how they evolve so we can proactively limit their ability to impact our site and our community of users. On the other side of the equation, it is critical for internet users to maintain their anti-virus software and use a personal firewall. eBay obviously cannot prevent general online attacks from taking over an individual’s personal PC," it said.

"eBay does not display sensitive financial information, so if a user’s computer and their sign in credentials used on eBay are compromised through whatever means, their sensitive financial data is still protected, reducing the possibility of ID theft.

"As for eBay’s servers, members can be assured that their information is secure; no one has ever 'broken into' one of our servers and stolen information," it added.

Researchers at Israeli security firm Aladdin Knowledge Systems reckon that hundreds of popular Web sites, regardless of local language or geography, might still be infecting visitors.

As well as a 'brute force' assault the crackers behind the attack are also using phishing techniques. Cybercriminals have set up a variety of phishing sites in a bid to give themselves quicker access to an even larger number of accounts.

Aladdin researchers reckon a high percentage of the threat’s efforts are targeted specifically at UK-based eBay account holders. The Trojan appears to separate its handling of accounts, distinguishing between accounts inside and outside of the US.

"Through new infection and attack methods, this targeted threat shows that Trojans are continuing to evolve into extremely dynamic, adaptive tools for online criminals, resulting in a potentially damaging aftermath for its individual victims," said Ofer Elzam, director of product management for the Aladdin eSafe Business Unit and head of the Aladdin eSafe security response team.

The auction giant's safety tips microsite, which is full of useful advise on avoiding phishing attacks and other such scams, can be found here. ®

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