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Nap Trojan uncovered copying New York Times attack methods

06 Feb 2013
Concept image representing virus malware

Security firm FireEye has discovered new malware operating in the wild that boasts similar security-bypassing capabilities to the tools used to attack The New York Times.

FireEye warned that the malware, dubbed Nap Trojan, was using advanced techniques to bypass traditional security tools and this increases the likelihood other firms could see their defences bypassed.

"Nap is yet another piece of malicious software that is being used by attackers in order to compromise PCs and then use them as the base from which to launch attacks," FireEye product manager and architect, Jason Steer, told V3.

"By infecting and then cycling through thousands of infected machines in a very short timeframe, hackers can evade detection; indeed many of the traditional security systems used today are unable to deal with this kind of attack."

Steer said Nap is particularly dangerous as it shares several common traits with the malware used in a recent attack on the New York Times.

"In that breach, the attacker used thousands of university computers as front-end agents, rotating the attack between these machines in order to avoid suspicion" Said Steer.

"Nap also employs extended 'sleep' calls, a classic evasion tactic used by malware writers to help avoid analysis detection by security tools.  Effectively this means the malware remains dormant for extended times, this could be 30 minutes or more, making it difficult to predict what it is actually going to do on a victim's PC."

The New York Times revealed it was the target of a prolonged cyber campaign originating from China at the end of January.

The Chinese hackers reportedly mounted the attack as "payback" for a series of articles the paper published about the nation's prime minister Wen Jiabao.

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Alastair Stevenson
About

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

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