'Storm' Trojan horse taps into YouTube fever

Hackers have changed their tactics again

Hackers bent on spreading the Storm Trojan horse have changed tactics again and are now trying to dupe users into clicking on links posing as YouTube videos, security vendors warn.

Storm, a.k.a. Peacomm and Nuwar, is now spreading via e-mail that includes a link that appears to be to a YouTube video, said Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the SANS Institute, on the Internet Storm Center's blog this weekend. "The link looks like a link to YouTube, but actually points to a 'numeric' URL like old Storm variants," said Ullrich.

Placing the mouse cursor atop the bogus YouTube link will show a numeric IP address rather than the expected www.youtube.com, a good indicator of a scam attempt.

Recipients who click on the link see a message that claims the video is loading in the background, said Vinoo Thomas, a researcher at McAfee's Avert Labs. Actually, said Thomas, "an embedded obfuscated JavaScript routine attempts a cocktail of browser and application exploits." If any of those exploits are successful, Storm gets dropped on the PC.

Over the weekend, Roger Thompson, a researcher at Exploit Prevention Labs Inc., identified the multistrike exploit package as "Q406 Rollup," a collection that has made the rounds since late last year. Similar to other hacker kits such as Mpack, Q406 includes a dozen or more exploits.

Storm's markers have become well-known for their skill at adapting their pitches to get users to open attached files or click on e-mailed links. Last week, a Symantec researcher said the group was "very adept" at creating persuasive messages. "They have a knack for latching on to the latest newsworthy events and capitalizing on the public interest in them," said Hon Lu. "And if no newsworthy events are happening at the time, then they will just make them up."

The Storm Trojan horse reportedly behind the summer's plague of malicious greeting card spam, and the machines it has infected -- by some accounts a massive botnet -- served as the launching pad for a huge wave of pump-and-dump stock scam spam earlier this month.

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Gregg Keizer

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