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Monday, October 1, 2001

Vote Virus seeks opinion, then deletes files
Elinor Mills Abreu

SECURITY experts on Monday warned of a brand new virus masquerading as a program that will allow persons to vote whether the USA should go to war over the deadly Sept. 11 hijacker attacks, but which deletes computer files instead.

The ĎVote Virusí is spreading via e-mail to users of Microsoft Corp.ís Outlook e-mail program, said Simon Perry, vice president of security solutions at Computer Associates International Inc.

The virus appears with the subject line: "Peace between America and Islam!" and the body of the e-mail reads: "Hi. Is it a war against America or Islam!? Letís vote to live in peace!" Perry said.

When the attachment entitled "WTC.exe" is opened, the virus deletes all files on the computerís hard drive and sends copies of the e-mail to every address listed in the computerís address book, he said.

The virus also defaces any Web pages that are hosted by an infected computer to read: "America ... few days will show you what we can do!!! Itís our turn Zaker is so sorry for you."

The virus is believed to be the work of an opportunist and not associated with the Sept. 11 jetliner attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in which more than 6,000 people are believed to be dead or missing.

"There is no evidence that this is related to those who carried out the attacks," Perry said.

ĎWe feel this is likely to get quite a high pickup in that a lot of people are going to click on this,í he said. "If the news about this doesnít get out before people get their e-mails, theyíre at risk."

Perry said he expects there will be more socially engineered viruses created in the future that will take advantage of peopleís interest in the attacks and the subsequent political and military repercussions.

"What this is a sick sense of humor," Perry said. "Chances are this is not any kind of cyber-terrorism. Itís just cyber terror."

As many as 10 large corporate customers of Computer Associates have been infected since the virus first appeared Monday morning, Perry said. Researchers do not know where it originated from but it has not yet hit Europe and Asia, he said.

Computer Associates is working on software that will enable its Innoculate anti-virus software to detect the new virus and prevent it from infecting a computer, Perry said.


Kournikova virus creator gets community sentence

THE Dutch creator of the "Anna Kournikova" virus, which infected computers worldwide, was sentenced last week to 150 hoursí community service.

The virus, disguised as a digital photo of the heartthrob Russian tennis star, e-mailed itself to millions of computers in February, slowing systems and shutting down some servers.

Its creator, a 20-year-old computer shop employee from the northern Dutch town of Sneek, collected viruses and had by his own admission gathered some 7,200, the court in the city of Leeuwarden said in its verdict. "The virus he spread caused nuisance, concern and irritation to Internet users worldwide," the court said in its judgment, though it added that the damage had been limited.

The man turned himself in to police shortly after creating the virus. In a letter he posted on the web, he claimed inspiration in equal parts from devotion to the 20-year-old Russian player and evidence that the Internet users were not taking steps to protect themselves from viruses.