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Vietnamese dissidents targeted by botnet attacks

Google and McAfee say they have found evidence of a botnet targeting opponents of a Vietnamese mining project that was created through the use of malware.

Cyberattacks were recently used to intimidate opponents of a mining project in Vietnam with ties to China, according to Google and McAfee.

Malware that was disguised as a popular Vietnamese-language keyboard driver for Windows users was used to create a botnet, according to blog posts from Google's Neel Mehta and McAfee Chief Technical Officer George Kurtz. That botnet was then used to target blogs rallying against a bauxite mining project in Vietman, employing DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks to shut down those blogs, according to the posts.

The two companies discovered the botnet and malware during an investigation into the causes of the cyberattacks leveled against Google and more than 30 U.S. companies late last year, which prompted Google's showdown with the Chinese government over censorship. The Vietnamese attacks do not appear to be related, they said, as "the bot code is much less sophisticated than the Operation Aurora attacks," Kurtz wrote, using Mcafee's code name for the previous cyberattacks.

Users running the Vietnamese character software are advised to update their virus definitions to determine if the malware is present on their system.