April 29, 2005 10:00 AM PDT

This week in Net attacks

Security researchers have discovered an attack aimed at would-be visitors to Google.com.

The attack is one that attempts to download malicious programs onto the computers of people who simply mistype the search giant's Web address.

According to security specialist F-Secure, unsuspecting Web surfers may be bombarded with various types of Trojan horse threats, spyware and backdoors when they go to "Googkle.com." The scheme is meant to take advantage of sloppy or hurried typists, given that on most keyboards the letter "k" key sits next to the "l" needed to type "Google."

Another security company warned that an unpatched flaw in some versions of the Netscape browser could let an attacker into vulnerable systems. The vulnerability is "highly critical," according to an advisory released by the security company Secunia. Version 6.2.3 and 7.2 of Netscape are affected and other versions may also be susceptible, the company said.

The flaw could allow a hacker to launch a buffer overflow attack, which could crash the browser or enable the attacker to execute code on the compromised system. A patch has not been created, according to Secunia. A Netscape representative recommended on Wednesday that people upgrade to version 8.0 of the software.

But there was good news for Internet users: The end is coming for viruses sent by e-mail, security experts at a London conference predicted, saying the problem has had its day. The most severe issue Internet users now face is the growing problem of spyware, said some attendees at the Infosecurity Europe conference, noting that the malicious software is ready to fill the void.

Dan Hubbard, senior director of Websense Security Labs, said the number of e-mail-borne viruses is falling and will continue to do so. David Perry, global director of education at antivirus software maker Trend Micro, said the age of e-mail viruses has simply come to an end.

 

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