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Compromise turns Kaspersky site into malware hub

Hackers exploit buggy app

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The US website for anti-virus provider Kaspersky was caught pushing malware to its users for three and a half hours on Sunday after it was compromised by criminal hackers.

The attack first came to light on three separate user forums frequented by Kaspersky users. According to some of the posts, Kaspersky officials initially denied any compromise took place.

“They are stating that I must have went to a phishing site or a site that looks like them,” one user wrote. “Sorry Kaspersky, I typed the correct URL above and was directed directly from your web site. I even went to my order email from Kaspersky I purchase 7-months ago.”

On Tuesday, the Russian anti-virus firm came clean and admitted that hackers were able to compromise the kasperskyusa.com by exploiting a vulnerable third-party application. As a result, people who visited the site were redirected to a malicious webpage.

“The website was simulating a Windows XP Explorer window and a popup window showing scanning process on the local computer and offering the user a fake antivirus program to install,” a statement from Kaspersky stated. “The domain was making these redirections for 3.5 hours in total.”

Based on Kaspersky's terse disclosure, it's likely visitors would become infected only if they fell for the ruse and clicked on links to download and install the malicious software. The statement provides no guidance to users who did so.

The breach is the latest black eye for Kaspersky, as the company tries to make the case it can keep its users safe even as it fails to secure its own online storefront. In early 2009, a 10-day security lapse exposed the back-end database used to run Kaspersky's US-based website. Various Kaspersky international sites have been defaced at least 36 times since 2000, according to The Zero Day security blog.

As was the case with the earlier compromise, Kaspersky said on Tuesday that the attack didn't expose customer data and that the exploit was contained quickly after it was discovered. Company researchers continue to identify possible consequences of the attack and are available to help users remove the malware, though the statement provides no contact details for customers who want to take Kaspersky up on the offer. ®

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