Report: Attackers sent Google workers IMs from 'friends'

Report: Attackers sent Google workers IMs from 'friends'
Report: Attackers sent Google workers IMs from 'friends' 

By Elinor Mills
InSecurity Complex
CNet News
January 25, 2010

People behind the China-based online attacks of Google and other 
companies looked up key employees on social networks and contacted them 
pretending to be their friends to get the workers to click on links 
leading to malware, according to a published report on Monday.

"The most significant discovery is that the attackers had selected 
employees at the companies with access to proprietary data, then learnt 
who their friends were," the Financial Times reported. "The hackers 
compromised the social network accounts of those friends, hoping to 
enhance the probability that their final targets would click on the 
links they sent."

"We're seeing a lot more up-front reconnaissance, understanding who the 
players are at the company and how to reach them," George Kurtz, chief 
technology officer at security firm McAfee, told the Financial Times. 
"Someone went to the trouble to backtrack: 'Let me look at their 
friends, who I can target as a secondary person.'"

The attackers used a popular instant-messaging program to distribute the 
malware link to target employees, Kurtz said. The malware exploited a 
hole in Internet Explorer that Microsoft patched just last week.


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