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Fake YouTube site targeted Syrian activists, digital watchdog EFF says

The site tried to install malicious software disguised as an update for Adobe's Flash application

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A fake YouTube site purporting to show videos supporting the opposition in Syria has been taken down after it tried to infect visitors with malicious software, according to digital watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The EFF is "deeply concerned about this pattern of pro-government malware targeting online activists in authoritarian regimes," wrote Eva Galperin and Morgan Marquis-Boire.

Syria, which has been sternly criticised for its brutal treatment of anti-government protestors since an uprising began about a year ago, is known to heavily censor the internet and monitor users.

The fraudulent YouTube page tried to get users to enter their username and password, which in some cases is linked with a person's Gmail account. The site also tried to get the victim to download a bogus update for Adobe Flash, which was actually Windows malware, the EFF wrote.

The malware then "connects back to an address in Syrian IP space and downloads additional malware, which gives the attacker administrative access to your computer," the EFF wrote.

The EFF detailed how a user can tell if he has been infected. The organisation recommended reinstalling the operating system if the computer has been infected, since an attacker could have installed other kinds of malware on the machine as well. The EFF said all passwords should also be changed for services accessed while the machine was infected.

Last week, the EFF blogged about a remote access tool called "XTreme RAT," which was spreading through email and chat programs. The malware could take screenshots and log keystrokes on a victim's computer, sending the data to a Syrian IP address.

The organisation also noted another remote access tool, Darkcomet RAT, which was reportedly infecting the computers of Syrian activists a few weeks before. That tool could disable antivirus programs, record keystrokes and steal passwords, also sending the data to the same IP address in Syria as "XTreme RAT," the EFF explained.



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