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Infectious Web sites attack through Microsoft browser
Ted Bridis, The Associated Press 2004-06-25

Government and industry experts warned late yesterday of a mysterious, large-scale Internet attack against thousands of popular Web sites. The virus-like infection tries to implant hacker software onto the computers of all visitors to those sites

Industry experts and the Homeland Security Department were studying the infection to determine how it spreads across Web sites and find adequate defenses against it.

"Users should be aware that any Web site, even those that may be trusted by the user, may be affected by this activity and thus contain potentially malicious code," the government warned in one Internet alert.

The mysterious infection appeared to target at least one recent version of software by Microsoft Corp. to operate Web sites, called its Internet Information Server, popular among businesses and organizations.

A spokesman for Microsoft declined to comment immediately.

"The attacker uploaded a small file with (JavaScript) to infected web sites, and altered the web server configuration to append the script to all files served by the web server," according to an explanation posted by the Internet Storm Center in Bethesda, Md.

The JavaScript instructs the user's browser to download and install various malicious programs from a Russian Web site, including a keystroke logger and other software that could give hackers unauthorized access to an infected computer.

"No warning will be displayed," the explanation emphasized." The user does not have to click on any links. Just visiting an infected site will trigger the exploit."

Experts said the attack's effects were unusually broad but weren't substantially interfering with Internet traffic.

"While this is significant, it has no impact on the operation of the Internet," said Marcus Sachs, who helps run Internet Storm Center .

Experts urgently recommended consumers and corporate employees to update the antivirus software on their computers, since the latest versions can immunize visitors to infected Web sites.

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