Email virus gallops in through the front door

PHILIP Trouchet got a lot more than he bargained for after his visit to Burswood Resort for a recent stock market expo.

At the expo, Mr Trouchet gave several people his email address in order to be sent further information on potential investment oppor-tunities.

But he didn’t expect his Apple Mac to be hit by a Trojan virus several days later.

Mr Trouchet’s computer was attacked by the virus when he opened Internet Explorer to browse the net. The screen displayed meaningless characters and, when he contacted his ISP, he discovered his machine was being targeted from an IP address in New York.

He quickly disconnected (he later lost the connection to his ISP anyway) and ran a host of anti-virus programs. But it was not until a friend used heavy-duty diagnostic programs that they realised the attacks had damaged the operating system.

Luckily for Mr Trouchet, the virus code was written to target and overwrite information on PCs. Because the Trojan hit his Apple Mac, it corrupted the files rather than destroying them completely.

Mr Trouchet believes the virus was written to specifically target those attending the Australian Stock Market expo in order to access any investment records or personal details the victim had on their computer.

Highway 1 operations manager Robin Marshal said some Trojans were designed to send inform-

ation back to the hacker, while

others are written to perform a Dist-ributed Denial of Service (DDoS).

“What happens there is a little program is sent out to as many different machines as possible and that is used to attack a computer en masse,” Mr Marshal said.

“A good example of that was the Code Red worm, which was designed to attack the White House web page. The idea is they are attacking that from lots of different directions.”

Representatives from the White House, the FBI and Microsoft this week publicly spoke about the Code Red worm, labelling it a distinct threat to the Internet. Nine hours after the worm’s release on July 19, it is believed to have infected 250,000 systems. The worm uses infected computers to unwittingly launch attacks on websites or servers.

Earlier this year Business News reported one of Perth’s biggest ISPs was knocked offline by a DDoS attack. Huge amounts of traffic were directed at the main server from an address in Europe, causing service outages for several hours over the course of a few days.

Netguard managing director Mark Lapins said the danger with Trojan viruses was they could create backdoors into computers, allowing hackers easy access.

“Whenever you are connected to the Internet it broadcasts, generally to an Internet chat site, saying there is a machine sitting here available for you to hack straight into,” Mr Lapins said.

Mr Marshal said the best way to avoid an attack was to be careful with your email address.

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