Microsoft is investigating a new electronic attack which, ironically, attempts to disable the Microsoft AntiSpyware beta product so that it can surreptitiously install spyware on users' systems. Dubbed the Troj/BankAsh-A Trojan, this new electronic attack seeks to steal passwords and online banking information.

Here's how it works. If successfully installed on a PC system, Troj/BankAsh-A will attempt to disable Microsoft AntiSpyware and the notification dialogs that application generates during attacks. Then, it will try to delete all of the files in the Microsoft AntiSpyware installation folder, and install other spyware applications that will monitor your PC use and steal important data, like passwords and credit card numbers.

Though this attack was just recently launched, Microsoft says it is actively investigating. "Microsoft will continue to work with law enforcement and the industry to help protect customers from these types of threat," a company representative said yesterday. "We also encourage users to use extreme caution when opening unsolicited files from known and unknown sources. Microsoft continues to recommend customers to evaluate the Microsoft AntiSpyware beta." It's likely that a forthcoming automatic update for AntiSpyware will be able to repel this attack.