USB malware flaw hits Windows

19 Jul 2010
USB stick

New malware strain is targeting Windows PCs using infected USB sticks

A new type of malware is targeting Microsoft operating systems via infected USB drives.

The newly discovered Stuxnet malware uses a flaw in Windows to infect PCs using shortcut icons, Microsoft said.

"The vulnerability exists because Windows incorrectly parses shortcuts in such a way that malicious code may be executed when the user clicks the displayed icon of a specially crafted shortcut," Microsoft said in a security warning. "This vulnerability is most likely to be exploited through removable drives."

"Currently, we have seen only limited, targeted attacks on this vulnerability," Microsoft added, but said it expects other malware writers to start using the USB shortcut flaw too.

Security firm Trend Micro agreed. "Despite the numerous potential techniques for proliferation being offered by the web, USB malware continue to be distributed by cybercriminals, which only proves their effectiveness," JM Hipolito wrote on the Trend Micro blog.

The flaw affects Windows OSes from XP to 7, as well as Server 2003 and 2008. Microsoft has issued a pair of workarounds, advising users to disable the icon for shortcuts or the WebClient service, which it sees as the "most likely remote attack vector."

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