Media Players the New Front in Delivering Spam

Hackers are finding new ways to deliver spam, steal data and introduce computer viruses. New research suggests that online media players could be their next weapon.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It is Monday morning, which is the day we talk about technology. And today we have a warning about new ways that hackers have come up with to deliver spam and steal data.

Corey Moore reports.

COREY MOORE: Most of us are hip to suspicious e-mails. We simply delete without opening to make sure we don't get a virus. But how careful are we about clicking a video link, say, on YouTube? New research suggests online media players could become the next assault weapon used by hackers.

Gunther Ollman heads security strategy for IBM Internet Security Systems. He co-authored a report on Internet threats released last week by the Georgia Tech Information Security Center.

Mr. OLLMANN: Once an attacker understands where those flaws lie, they can insert malicious content into the streaming media, and in particular the streaming media file format.

MOORE: There are an average of 600 so-called vulnerabilities discovered each month - that is, threats to the computer. Although there have only been a few cases of video-related hack jobs, experts warn it could become a trend.

Mr. OLLMANN: The fact that there are now many more media formats, it becomes a lot easier for the attackers to actually launch these attacks.

MOORE: One worm discovered last November initiates a corrupt Web site when a media file in a player is opened, and dangerous video links have been popping up on YouTube. Bottom line? When watching videos on the Net, viewer discretion is advised.

For NPR News, I'm Corey Moore.

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