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11/30/2007
05:55 PM
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USAID Server Hacked To Serve Pornography

The compromised server was associated with USAID's Tanzania subdomain, Tanzania.usaid.gov.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provides economic, developmental and humanitarian assistance around the world in conjunction with the foreign policy goals of the United States. It also provides porn, or so it appeared as of 2:00 pm PST on Friday.

A call to USAID for comment found the agency unaware that one of its servers had been compromised. A few minutes later, a USAID spokesperson called back to say that the agency's IT staff was in the process of dealing with the issue. The hacked server was associated with USAID's Tanzania subdomain: Tanzania.usaid.gov.

This rather unorthodox offering was discovered by Sunbelt Software. As security researcher Patrick Jordan noted in a blog post on Friday, searching for porn using Google's "site:" operator (to restrict the search to the USAID domain) returned a list of apparent porn links.

In fact, the promise of porn is bait to dupe searchers into visiting malicious Web pages. Those doing so get presented with a fake error message indicating that updated video software is required. Interacting with the dialog menu, accepting it or canceling it, is likely result in the installation of the Zlob Trojan.

Infected machines were then at risk of being conscripted to serve in some cyber criminal's bot army.

"Trojan-Downloader.Zlob.Media-Codec is a program that typically purports to be a needed upgrade to Windows Media Player in order to view adult oriented videos on certain Web sites," Sunbelt explained on its Web site. "However, Trojan-Downloader.Zlob.Media-Codec actually downloads and installs additional malware on the user's machine."

It's not the first time Sunbelt has spotted inappropriate content on unsuspecting Web sites. On Thursday, the company spotted pornography on a Web site belonging to the transportation authority in Marin County, Calif. It has since been fixed, for the second time. In October, similar revelations arising from the same site led the federal government to close the entire "ca.gov" domain briefly, thereby shutting down the Internet and e-mail for the state.

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