Windows XP is officially an unsupported operating system, so in case you're still running it right now, you should really look into ways to upgrade to a newer platform because more and more threats aimed at XP are emerging.After the Internet Explorer flaw that also affects Windows XP, another threat aimed at users who are yet to upgrade to a newer OS version has been discovered, this time in China where plenty of computers are already under attack.
The Akamai Prolexic Security Engineering & Response Team (PLXsert) is reporting that cybercriminals in China are now using a completely new tool to exploit Windows computers, including those powered by XP, but also by newer versions of Microsoft's operating system.
According to the report, the so-called Storm crimeware kit allows an attacker not only to download and upload malicious files, but also to run executable files on the target computer and even use the system to launch DDoS attacks.
"The Storm kit is capable of infecting Windows XP (and higher) machines for malicious uses, including execution of DDoS attacks. Once a PC is infected, the Storm Network Stress Tester crimeware kit establishes remote administration (RAT) capabilities on the infected machine, enabling file uploads and downloads and the launching of executables, including four DDoS attack vectors," the notification posted today reads.
"A single PC infected by the new Storm crimeware kit can generate up to 12 Mbps of DDoS attack traffic with a single attack. As a result, orchestrated botnet attacks pose a significant DDoS threat. In addition, the RAT capability enables a variety of malicious activity, including the infection of other devices."
Some sources claim that the same tool has previously been spotted online last year, but it appears that it gains traction only now after the retirement of Windows XP.
At this point, it's not yet clear how exactly you can protect a computer from getting exploited, but as usual, staying away from malicious content and avoid clicking on suspicious links is the best way to avoid getting involved in such attempts.
Third-party stats show that Windows XP is still powering 26 percent of the desktop computers worldwide, which means that millions of PCs could become vulnerable to attacks if users do not upgrade to a different OS version. Microsoft itself warned that moving off Windows XP is a must for everyone, but not all users seem to actually care right now.