Microsoft is looking into a particularly nasty family of malware, which has been labeled 'Stuxnet' by security researchers, and has been seen in the wild in India, Iran, the US and Indonesia, Microsoft said in a blog post on Friday. One of the attack vectors Stuxnet uses is via USB stick. The malware requires no user interaction to infect the system. The operating system merely rendering an icon launches the malware.
"What is unique about Stuxnet is that it utilizes a new method of propagation," wrote Microsoft researcher Tareq Saade in the blog post. "Specifically, it takes advantage of specially-crafted shortcut files (also known as .lnk files) placed on USB drives to automatically execute malware as soon as the .lnk file is read by the operating system."
The malware, described by security company F-Secure as an "advanced, persistent threat", has infected Siemens WinCC Scada machines. In addition, Russian security company Kaspersky said in a blog post on Saturday that this was the first time its researchers had seen a piece of malware that relies on shortcut files to launch and hide itself.
For more on this story, read Windows systems at risk from Stuxnet shortcut malware on ZDNet UK.