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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 10:07 GMT
Microsoft seeking spyware trojan
Microsoft is under pressure to close security holes
Microsoft is investigating a trojan program that attempts to switch off the firm's anti-spyware software.

The spyware tool was only released by Microsoft in the last few weeks and has been downloaded by six million people.

Stephen Toulouse, a security manager at Microsoft, said the malicious program was called Bankash-A Trojan and was being sent as an e-mail attachment.

Microsoft said it did not believe the program was widespread and recommended users to use an anti-virus program.

The program attempts to disable or delete Microsoft's anti-spyware tool and suppress warning messages given to users.

Online theft

It may also try to steal online banking passwords or other personal information by tracking users' keystrokes.

Install anti-virus software
Keep your anti-virus software up to date
Install a personal firewall
Use Windows updates to patch security holes
Do not open e-mail messages that look suspicious
Do not click on e-mail attachments you were not expecting

Microsoft said in a statement it is investigating what it called a criminal attack on its software.

Earlier this week, Microsoft said it would buy anti-virus software maker Sybari Software to improve its security in its Windows and e-mail software.

Microsoft has said it plans to offer its own paid-for anti-virus software but it has not yet set a date for its release.

The anti-spyware program being targeted is currently only in beta form and aims to help users find and remove spyware - programs which monitor internet use, causes advert pop-ups and slow a PC's performance.

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