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Symantec: Politically motivated DOS attacks detected in Vietnam

Security firms and Google reported DOS attacks on Web sites of Vietnamese activists.

Symantec's maps of Websites being attacked by the Trojan.Dosvine threat. Symantec

Security firm Symantec identified Wednesday a piece of malware, called Trojan.Dosvine as the latest instance in what appears to be a growing trend of malware being used for political purposes. The malware was use Monday in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against the Vietnamese online community.

The malware, which was initially detected by a Vietnamese security firm Bkis, disguises as an update of the popular Acrobat Reader to lure users to download and install it on their computers. This is a popular tactic hackers use to drop and run a malicious payload while avoiding detection.

Symantec says, after more a detailed look into the coding of the mailware, it became clear that this threat targeted Vietnamese online community. More specifically, it was designed to specifically try to squelch opposition to the bauxite mining project in Vietnam.

In a related article, Google also reported that these DOS attacks but cited that the maleware masqueraded as Vietnamese keyboard software, an application that allows for typing Vietnamese on QWERTY keyboards.

This reminded us of the Trojan.Hydraq/Aurora incident from earlier this year that targeted Chinese activists' Gmail accounts which eventually prompted Google to pull out of China.

The bauxite mining project in Vietnam has been an important and emotionally charged issue in the country. The project involves a subsidiary of Chinese state-run aluminum company Chinalco to be planned in Vietnam's Central Highlands and has attracted strong opposition for those who fear the mine would cause major environmental problems and lead to Chinese workers flooding into the strategically sensitive region of the country.

Similar to China, Vietnam has been trying to apply tight controls the flow of information over the Internet and has said it reserves the right to take "appropriate action" against Web sites it deems harmful to national security. Since late 2009, access to social website Facebook has been intermittentfor users from within Vietnam.