Clipboards hijacked by furtive code

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Software that hijacks a computer's clipboard is being used to unkowningly direct users to scam web sites.

Security firms are warning about a web link that is surreptitiously stored in a user's clipboard.

It has been found in Adobe Flash-based advertisements on otherwise legitimate websites and has attacked clipboards on both Windows and Macs.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at security firm F-Secure, said the attack repeatedly replaces the clipboard contents with what users thought they had placed there, so that each piece of information the user copies to the clipboard is successively flushed and replaced by the malicious code as the Flash file plays.

"Users have resorted to re-booting their computer to get rid of the link and others have killed the process thread," Hypponen told "It is not at all obvious to the user why the clipboard doesn't work."

As to how innovative the attack seems, he added, "All our work would be so much easier if our enemies would be stupid." 

Online editor Chuck Miller contributed to this story.

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