By Jim Finkle
July 18, 2007
HACKERS have stolen information from the US Department of Transportation
and several corporations by seducing employees with fake job-listings on
ads and email, a computer security firm says. The list of victims
included several companies known for providing security services to
They include consulting firm Booz Allen and computer services company
Unisys, chief executive of British Internet security provider Prevx Mel
Hewlett-Packard declined comment, while officials with other companies
couldn't be reached for comment. A Department of Transportation
spokeswoman said the agency couldn't find any indication of a security
Malicious programs were able to pass sophisticated security systems
undetected because that software hadn't been instructed that they were
dangerous. Hackers only targeted a limited group of personal computers,
which kept traffic down and allowed them to stay under the radar of
security police who tend to identify threats when activity reaches a
"What is most worrying is that this particular sample of malware wasn't
recognised by existing antivirus software. It was able to slip through
enterprise defences," said Yankee Group security analyst Andrew Jaquith,
who learned of the breach from Mr Morris.
It was not clear whether the hackers used information stolen from the
personal computers, Mr Morris said.
Internet security firms began to release patches to fight the malicious
software on Monday night.
Trend Micro, for example, sent its customers software that prevented the
malware from being installed on computers. The software also blocks
browsers from going to websites that the company has identified as being
infected with the dangerous programs, company spokesman Mike Haro said.
"This is a serious threat. It shows how sophisticated hackers have
become," Mr Haro said.
A piece of software, NTOS.exe, probes the PC for confidential data, then
sends it to a website hosted on Yahoo. The site's owner was likely to be
unaware that it was being used by hackers, Mr Morris said.
That website hosts data that had been stolen from more than 1,000 PCs
and encrypted before it was posted on the site, Mr Morris said.
He said he believed the hackers had set up several "sister" websites
that were collecting similar data from other malware.
Officials with Yahoo were not available for comment.
Mr Morris said that he had downloaded the data from the website and
decrypted it at the request of investigators from the FBI's Law
Enforcement Online, or LEO, program, who were looking into the matter.
An FBI spokesman declined comment, saying it was agency policy to
neither confirm nor deny whether an investigation was ongoing.
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