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Syrian Dissidents Infected with Malware from Bogus Anti-Hacking Tool

Bianca STANESCU

August 16, 2012

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Syrian Dissidents Infected with Malware from Bogus Anti-Hacking Tool

Pro-government hackers allegedly targeted Syrian opposition with a fake anti-hacking tool that installed spyware on their computers, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The watchdog group warns that, as violence across Syria skyrockets, activists are targeted by AntiHacker, a phony security tool promising to provide “Auto-Protect & Auto-Detect & Security & Quick scan and analysing.”[sic]

The spyware is based on DarkComet Remote Access Trojan, allegedly used in the past for similar attacks, including on a malicious website purportedly offering Skype encryption software. The Trojan allows hackers to capture webcam activity, disable some antivirus settings, record key strokes, steal passwords, and send sensitive information directly to the attackers. Unlike the phony Skype program, AntiHacker doesn`t abuse Comic Sans, but it has several suspicious Spamglish errors, including a pop-up reading “You Are Running On unprotected Conection You Maybe At Risk !!!!”[sic]

“Syrian Internet users should be especially careful about downloading applications from unfamiliar websites,” said EFF representative Eva Galperin. “The AntiHacker website showed many signs of being illegitimate, including prolific abuse of English spelling and grammar, but this campaign demonstrates that while Syrian activists are becoming more savvy about efforts to trick them into downloading malware, attackers are also becoming more sophisticated.”

The AntiHacker tool even has a Facebook account, luring users on the social network. At the same time, the Union of Free Students in Syria has started a Facebook campaign, posting pictures with warnings against phishing attacks and malware, and messages such as “Protect the revolution, protect your password. Don`t be tricked by a fake login page.” They also advised users not to open suspicious attachments, and create a different password for each account.

This is not the first time Syrian dissidents fall to cyber attack. In May, a Trojan targeted both Syrian and Iranian activists, capturing their usernames, IP addresses, and keystrokes. In July, DarkComet RAT developer Jean-Pierre Lesueur posted a removal tool for his application, and decided to terminate the product because it was misused.

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