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20-minutes attack

Government blocks access to Trojan-infected website

The Swiss government blocked access for its workers to the website of the free daily newspaper “20 Minuten” – the largest in Switzerland by circulation – on Thursday after it was confirmed that the site was infected with the e-banking virus “Gozi”.

The Trojan, a term for a malicious computer virus which appears to be useful or interesting to make the user open it, was discovered on the site by the government’s Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance (MELANI) on Wednesday.

It may have infected the desktop computers of some of the readers who used the site. People who accessed the website via mobile devices – 80% of users – were not affected.

The Trojan attempts to gain access to users’ bank account information and to withdraw funds. It can take up to three months before the Trojan tries to withdraw money, said Pascal Lamia, director of the reporting centre MELANI.

According to Lamia, it’s extremely difficult to tell whether your computer has the Trojan. Potential signs include an extremely slow connection, a blue desktop or repeated requests to enter your password, he said.

Lamia recommends that users contact their bank’s hotline immediately if they become aware of suspicious circumstances.

Daily attacks

20 Minuten, a free daily tabloid newspaper published in German, French and Italian, both in paper and online, has the largest circulation in Switzerland.

The website’s publisher, Tamedia, was informed of the attack by a representative of MELANI on Thursday, said Tamedia spokesman Christoph Zimmer.

“Tamedia’s servers are attacked on a daily basis,” he said. And every few months, an attacker succeeds in breaking through the security systems.

The 20 Minuten website will be blocked by the government for government employees until 20 Minuten “can confirm that it has developed a sustainable solution to the problem,” said Sonja Uhlmann, spokeswoman for the Federal Office of Information Technology, Systems and Telecommunications (BIT).

Other bodies which blocked access to the site for their employees included the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, Swisscom and the Swiss News Agency.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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