New computer viruses seeking financial data

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New computer viruses seeking financial data

Recent computer viruses and worms in Korea are hacking into personal computers to access financial information, such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers and related passwords. Although personal computers have always been subject to various infections, current viruses are different in that they are not just pranks, but have specific hacking functions. A few years ago, most viruses disabled basic functions of computers, bogging down the computer’s processing speed or mess up the system and delete or duplicate files at random. Recent variants, however, are programmed to silently search for personal financial information and are therefore harder to detect. “Many people don’t even know that their computer is contaminated until they run a vaccine program. Spyware, viruses, for worms work secretly,” said Kang Eun-sung, a director at AhnLab. Security experts said that these bugs are increasing because more Koreans are performing financial duties online without protection. “Home banking, cyber stock trading and online shopping have increased greatly in the past few years; therefore, more personal financial data are installed in computers,” said Yoon Gwang-taik, an official at computer security firm Symantec Corp. Mr. Yoon said that late last year, 54 percent of all vicious codes that were reported to Symantec were made for the purpose of stealing personal information. Viruses are mostly spread through the Internet, but recent infections also travel through mobile communications networks and home networks. “Viruses move freely between computers, personal digital assistants, mobile phones, and even household appliances connected to the Internet. They don’t announce their arrival by coming as an e-mail attachment,” said Choi Sung-hwan, an official at security firm Trend Micro Korea. “Insidious codes are expanding, thanks to the Internet and extensive mobile networking. They are becoming the largest threat factor in society,” Ms. Kang said. by Chang Chung-hoon, Wohn Dong-hee

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