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Web infection attacks more than 100,000 pages

UK Civil Service, UN and EPA among the plagued

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Hackers have injected malicious code into hundreds of thousands of reputable web pages, turning them into launchpads for attacks that silently install malware on the machines of those who visit them. The UK's Civil Service and the United Nations were among those who had been hacked.

This Yahoo search returned 173,000 results for the term "nihaorr1," which is part of the address that uses a malicious javascript to attack end users. The rogue URL horns its way onto web pages through a SQL injection vulnerability in IIS and possibly other web servers, according to IT-related web forums.

Websense, which wrote about the mass infection Tuesday, said the attackers perpetrated a similar assault a few weeks ago on news and travel sites. Little is known about the group responsible, except that they're using the nihaorr1.com domain name, which appears on the surface to be registered to someone in Shanghai.

Users visiting an infected site will be redirected to a series of sites that eventually tries to exploit eight different vulnerabilities, all of which have been patched.

We've written plenty about vulnerabilities in browsers, media players and other types of software that are triggered only after the mark visits a website under the control of the attacker. Almost inevitably, a Reg reader comments that only a fool would be drawn to such a place. As mass infections like this one make clear, anyone who visits pages belonging to well-known news and travel sites, the United Nations or governmental agencies on either side of the Atlantic is susceptible.

So if you haven't patched that old version of iTunes or AIM in a while, now might a good time. ®

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