Computer virus targets Russian opposition

Washington, March 10: Opponents of Russian president-elect Vladimir Putin are being targeted through a computer virus sent by email, CNN reported.

“A wave of spam e-mails promoting a rally” against Putin is delivering the spyware as an attachment that appears to be a Word document. In reality, the file is a software programme known as “Trojan.Dropper”, said anti-virus software maker Symantec.

The e-mails began circulating around March 5, according to Symantec’s official blog.

The subject line in the e-mail call demonstrators to action with phrases like: “all to demonstration”, “instructions what to do” or “meeting for the equal elections”.

The body of the e-mail asks the recipient to open an attachment, saying it contains “need-to-know” information.

When the user opens the file, a document does actually open revealing an announcement for a supposed anti-Putin rally with a map indicating its apparent location. But at the same time, the file drops a Trojan horse virus onto the user’s computer, CNN said.

The Trojan also attempts to connect to IP address 193.104.153.31, located in Switzerland, and associated with another virus that once operated off a web address with a Russian domain name.

The virus then crashes the victim’s computer.

Symantec said the spam attack was “unusual — mainly because of its size”. These messages average 500 KB in size — 50 times the usual size of junk e-mails. “Most spam messages do not exceed 10 KB,” it said.

IANS