Trojans arriving by spam

Two new Trojan horse attacks are currently being sent via an e-mail spam format across the Internet by a hacker who persuades users to install it as a new screen saver, and then uses it to get access to those users' systems.

The BackDoor-G Trojan horse is being distributed like spam e-mail in the guise of a new screensaver, a game update, and other misdirection. Once installed, the program will provide an individual with complete surreptitious access to the client system.

A similar Trojan horse is also currently spreading through France under the name Armageddon, and may spread to the United States as well.

The programs are essentially the same, but use different file names.

"Basically, they just open a hole into enterprises," said Sal Viveros, group marketing manager for Total Virus Defense at Network Associates, which has received several samples of the attack since Wednesday last week. "It's really just a hack tool for hackers to gain entrance to individuals, companies, whatever."

The Trojan horse, when installed, will have the client "ping" an alert to the hacker to inform them of the successful installation of the backdoor program.

Network Associates is still following the electronic trail to the hacker.

"We're still trying to figure out exactly where that [ping] is going," said Viveros. "It doesn't seem to be any specific industry or group is being targeted."

The new Trojan horses are similar to previous attacks that enabled hackers to secretly gain access to a client system, such as BackOrifice and NetBus, as they represent a new mixture of virus and intrusion tools, according to Viveros. The new mixture of technologies now requires security updates to be issued to more than one type of security application.

"We're adding this to our antivirus program, but we're also adding this to CyberCop, our intrusion-detection application, because it really is both," said Viveros. "It's starting to blur the lines between malicious code attack and security vulnerability."

BackDoor-G and Armageddon are also difficult to detect because both can change their file names, and therefore hide from traditional methods of simply deleting suspicious files.

To protect against the risk of vulnerability, you should update both your antivirus and intrusion-detection software, according to Viveros.

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Matthew Nelson

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