Computer users are at risk from a new virus that could leave their online bank accounts open to cyber criminals. The Clampi Trojan, which is also known as Ligats or Ilomo, has infected around 1,000 computers in the UK running Microsoft's Windows operating system, with experts warning that it could spread rapidly.
The virus is installed on a computer when the user unwittingly visits an infected website containing malicious code. Once on a computer, the Trojan captures login and password information from banking and other financial websites, and relays it back to hackers and cyber criminals who can then use the information to fraudulently access accounts, or make purchases using stolen credit card details.
According to security experts, the Trojan monitors around 4,500 finance-related websites, including those of several major UK banks. Although the virus has existed since 2005, analysts have warned that the new strain appears to be more aggressive and is spreading faster than its predecessors.
In the United States , several schools and businesses have fallen victim to the Trojan, losing thousands of dollars to cyber criminals.
Experts have warned that the malicious code needed to execute the Trojan is found to be no longer restricted to gambling and pornography websites, as has traditionally been the case, but is now found on dozens of seemingly innocuous sites.
Follow these steps to ensure that your computer is secure:
(1) Make sure you are running antivirus software on your computer, and that you have installed the latest virus updates. There are some excellent free antivirus programs available - we recommend Avast! or AVG.
(2) Make sure you've got a Firewall installed on your computer to monitor the flow of internet connections into and out of your machine. We recommend Zone Alarm, which is free.
(3) Download and install any critical updates and security patches from your operating system vendor. You can find all the latest bug fixes and patches for the Windows operating system on the Microsoft website.
(4) If you're using a Wi-Fi network at home, ensure it is password protected and secure, to prevent other people from being able to piggyback off your connection, or worse, hack into your network and access files and information stored on your computer.
(5) When surfing the internet, do not click on any suspicious links, especially in unsolicited emails from unknown senders, or on social networking sites and instant messaging services.
(6) Consider using a prepaid credit card when shopping online, to isolate that account from your debit account or those used for online banking. That way, if anyone does make a fraudulent transaction using those card details, they can only spend a restricted amount of money loaded on to the card, and it also operates separately of your current account, meaning not all of your bank details will be compromised.
(7) If you do fall prey to Clampi, or other similar viruses, make sure you change password and login details for all banking and finance accounts that may have been compromised by the infection.