The giant computer software developer Microsoft has claimed success for its efforts to combat malware – harmful and malicious viruses and other bugs that can affect the performance and security of standard software systems and programs.
In the June edition of Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) a device to remove password stealers from infected machines has been included, the company has announced. MSRT is a basic anti-malware tool designed to find and neutralise prevalent forms of malware.
MSRT was apparently originally created to mop up instances of worm infections such as Nimda, but its role has expanded over the years to include attempts to control the spread of the Trojan Storm worm and others. The June update to the tool added detection for password-stealing Trojans of a type commonly used to grab online gaming passwords. Apparently many of the Trojans originate in eastern Asia (particularly China).
Password stealing Trojans such as Taterf spread across network shares, and can be propagated as easily as using a USB stick, computer technical publications opine. Another prevalent Trojan – Frethog – uses browser exploits. Both Trojans have apparently become a serious threat in recent weeks, spreading further than was previously thought, according to Microsoft's clean-up statistics.
After adding detection for Taterf to its MSRT tool on 10 June, Microsoft cleaned-up serious Taterf component infections from more than 700 000 machines on the first day and 1.27 million in the first two weeks. Frethog was removed from 200 000 machines on day one and 652 000 machines by last Friday. The Storm worm was removed from under 350 000 machines in the first month that detection was added to MSRT.
Microsoft security expert Matt McCormick warns that the rapid spread of these infections may be due to gambling and gaming users making insufficient use of anti-virus software on grounds that this might impair the fast performance of their machines. Indiscriminate downloading can exacerbate this trend, he opined.