Virus writers are picking up new Microsoft attack

Eset has spotted two new attacks; many more are expected

The Windows attack used by a recently discovered worm is being picked up by other virus writers and will soon become much more widespread, according to security vendor Eset.

Eset reported Thursday that two new families of malicious software have popped up, both of which exploit a vulnerability in the way Windows processes .link files, used to provide shortcuts to other files on the system.

The vulnerability was first exploited by the Stuxnet worm, discovered on computer systems in Iran last month. Highly sophisticated, Stuxnet targets systems running Siemens industrial control system management software. The worm steals SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) project files from Siemens' computer systems.

Siemens issued a Security Update for its customers on Thursday, but Microsoft has yet to patch the Windows bug that permits the worm to spread.

The newly discovered malware is "far less sophisticated" than Stuxnet and "suggests bottom feeders seizing on techniques developed by others," said Eset researcher Pierre-Marc Bureau, writing in a blog post.

One of the new samples installs a keystroke logger, a tool hackers use to steal passwords and other data, on the victim's computer. "The server used to deliver the components used in this attack is presently located in the US, but the IP is assigned to a customer in China," Bureau said.

The other variant could be used to install one of several different pieces of malicious software.

As each new variant of the attack pops up, it adds pressure on Microsoft to patch the underlying vulnerability. Microsoft's next set of security patches is due Aug. 10, but if enough customers get infected, the company may be forced to rush out an emergency patch for the issue.

Microsoft has already posted a temporary workaround to the problem and says it is working on a patch.

Right now, the Stuxnet worm makes up a very tiny volume -- less than 1/100th of a percent -- of the malware that Eset is seeing on the Internet, said Randy Abrams, Eset's director of technical education, in an interview.

However that's likely to change. "It's likely to become one of the most prevalent attack vectors," he said. "I expect that within a few months, we'll see hundreds if not thousands of pieces of malware using the link vulnerability."

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftmalwareeset

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Shining a light on creativity

MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?