Trojan lurks, waiting to steal admin passwords

July 2, 2008 – 5:56 AM

Writers of a password-stealing Trojan horse program have found that a little patience can lead to a lot of infections.

They have managed to infect hundreds of thousands of computers, including more than 14,000 within one unnamed global hotel chain, by waiting for system administrators to log onto infected PCs and then using a Microsoft administration tool to spread their malicious software throughout the network.

The criminals behind the Coreflood Trojan are using the software to steal banking and brokerage account usernames and passwords. They’ve amassed a 50GB database of this information from the machines they’ve infected, according to Joe Stewart, director of malware research with security vendor SecureWorks.

“They’ve been able to spread throughout entire enterprises,” he said. “That’s something you rarely see these days.”

Since Microsoft shipped its Windows XP Service Pack 2 software with its locked-down security features, hackers have had a hard time finding ways to spread malicious software throughout corporate networks. Widespread worm or virus outbreaks soon dropped off after the software’s August 2004 release.

But the Coreflood hackers have been successful, due in part to a Microsoft program called PsExec, which was written to help system administrators run legitimate software on computers across their networks.


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