After a busy 2011, malicious hackers are wasting no time making headlines in 2012. The first target: Facebook. The social-media giant was hit with a malware worm known as Ramnit — and the attack offered a booty that reportedly includes the log-in details for more than 45,000 Facebook users.
“Our security experts have reviewed the data, and while the majority of the information was out of date, we have initiated remedial steps for all affected users to ensure the security of their accounts,” Facebook said in a published statement.
“Thus far, we have not seen the virus propagating on Facebook itself, but have begun working with our external partners to add protections to our anti-virus systems to help users secure their devices.”
The Hackers’ Motive
Security firm Seculert is taking credit for discovering the hack, which mostly targeted users in the United Kingdom and France. The Microsoft Malware Protection Center describes Ramnit as “a multi-component malware family which infects Windows executable as well as HTML files,” and said its goal is to steal “sensitive information such as stored FTP credentials and browser cookies.”
“We suspect that the attackers behind Ramnit are using the stolen credentials to log-in to victims’ Facebook accounts and to transmit malicious links to their friends, thereby magnifying the malware’s spread even further,” Seculert wrote in a blog post.
“In addition, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the fact that users tend to use the same password in various Web-based services (Facebook, Gmail, Corporate SSL VPN, Outlook Web Access, etc.) to gain remote access to corporate networks.”
Ramnit’s Financial Focus
Ramnit was first discovered in April 2010. But it’s a major nuisance for corporate IT administrators. Symantec issued a report in July 2011 indicating that the Ramnit worm and its variants made up about 17 percent of all new malicious software infections.
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