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That Kelhios badness is infecting you - securobods

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Software being offered to patriotic Russians as a way to attack Western governments, especially the US, is actually loaded with malware that attacks supporters' computers, security researchers warn.

Hackers have crafted ingenious spam messages that help them deliver the Trojan to those who support the Russian cause and are opposed to economic sanctions taken against their country over the conflict in the Ukraine. Users who click the malicious links are unwillingly joining a botnet, Romanian security firm BitDefender warns.

According to Bitdefender’s Russian-speaking antispam researchers, the malicious messages state: “We, a group of hackers from the Russian Federation, are worried about the unreasonable sanctions that Western states imposed against our country. We have coded our answer and below you will find the link to our program. Run the application on your computer, and it will secretly begin to attack government agencies of the states that have adopted those sanctions.”

After clicking the links, victims download an executable that is actually the Kelihos Trojan. The Trojan communicates with the command and control centre by exchanging encrypted messages via HTTP to retrieve further instructions.

Kelihos can communicate with other infected computers, steal Bitcoin wallets, send spam emails, steal login credentials as well as downloading and execute other malicious files on the affected system.

The Kelihos botnet, discovered four years ago, has a peer-to-peer structure where individual nodes can act as command-and-control servers for the entire botnet, increasing its longevity by making it harder to dismantle. BitDefender has identified download nodes in the Ukraine, Poland and the Republic of Moldavia.

“It is somehow ironic that most of the infected IPs are from Ukraine," said Doina Cosovan, a virus analyst at Bitdefender. "This either means that computers in the country were also infected, or that Ukraine itself is where the distribution servers are located.”

Inviting internet users to download hacking tools to launch attacks at enemies to a particular cause was a tactic regularly used by Anonymous, especially in its early days.

The Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) tool it initially recommended gave away users' IP addresses, leading to the arrest of various suspects. The tactic is far from limited to Anonymous and has also cropped up in online skirmishes featuring Palestinian and Israeli protagonists, for example. ®

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