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Beware of fake Microsoft security updates

Hackers are trying to break into computers using phony Microsoft security updates, an antivirus firm warned Friday.

If you see an e-mail advertised as new security updates from Microsoft, don't click on the link. Otherwise you'll...

find yourself visiting a malicious Web site that wants to infect machines with a Trojan horse program.

That warning comes from Lynnfield, Mass.-based antivirus firm Sophos. The company said it has discovered an e-mail campaign designed to direct users to a bogus Web site disguised as Microsoft's official Web site for critical security patches. If users follow the links in the e-mail and try to download patches, their computers will be infected by Troj.DSNX-05, which allows hackers to take remote control of the infected PC, Sophos said.

"This criminal campaign exploits the public's rising paranoia about the security of their Windows computers. If users fall for it they may put themselves at risk of being spied upon or having their credit card and online banking details stolen," Graham Cluley, Sophos' senior technology consultant, said in a statement. "We have long recommended that computer users keep up-to-date with the latest security patches, as Microsoft vulnerabilities are often exploited by viruses, worms and hackers. But users must be very careful to be sure they are going to the official update Web sites, rather than just following links in e-mails which have been sent by hackers."

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The e-mails claim to come from Microsoft Windows Update and includes such subject lines as "Update your Windows machine," "Urgent Windows Update" and "Important Windows Update." The body text claims to link to Microsoft's Windows Update site but instead links to a Web site under the control of the hackers

"Microsoft does not issue security warnings in this way, so users should be on their guard whenever they receive an e-mail like this," Cluley said. "It makes sense to keep your antivirus and antispam software up-to-date, but it is also wise to practice safe computing and be wary of unsolicited communications that might lead your computer into danger."

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