U.S. antivirus experts say a virus is sending information to a server in Syria
Activists: Regime supporters are stealing oppositionists' online identities'
Imposters use stolen identities to pass the viruses to activists, opposition claims
Antivirus software may not yet optimally protect against the new viruses
In Syria’s cyberwar, the regime’s supporters have deployed a new weapon against opposition activists – computer viruses that spy on them, according to an IT specialist from a Syrian opposition group and a former international aid worker whose computer was infected.
A U.S.-based antivirus software maker, which analyzed one of the viruses at CNN’s request, said that it was recently written for a specific cyberespionage campaign and that it passes information it robs from computers to a server at a government-owned telecommunications company in Syria.
Supporters of dictator Bashar al-Assad first steal the identities of opposition activists, then impersonate them in online chats, said software engineer Dlshad Othman. They gain the trust of other users, pass out Trojan horse viruses and encourage people to open them.
Once on the victim’s computer, the malware sends information out to third parties.
Othman is an IT security “go-to-guy” for opposition activists. He resides outside of Syria for his own safety.