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Conficker Autoplay ruse gets teeth into Windows 7

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Social engineering autoplay tricks work on early versions of Windows 7 as well as Vista, according to tests by security researchers.

AutoPlay trickery

As well as spreading by exploiting a weeks-old Microsoft vulnerability, the Conficker (Downadup) worm attempts to spread across network shares and to infect removable drives, using a special malformed autorun.inf file.

The use of a clever social engineering ruse means that users plugging an infected drive (such as a USB drive) into a Windows Vista machine might well be lulled into the idea they are clicking on a link that simply opens a folder, rather than actually running the worm's viral payload.

The same trick, first noticed by researchers at the Internet Storm Centre on Vista, also works on beta versions of Windows 7, researchers at F-secure have discovered.

Windows 7 is still in development, so there might still be time to modify how AutoPlay works in order to limit the scope for social engineering attacks. Conficker will surely not be unique in exploiting the ruse to trick users, so a change would surely be welcome. ®

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