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Pro-Palestinian political activists have created an worm virus called Injustice and they released the beast onto the Internet.

Computers infected with the virus send pro-Palestinian messages to 25 Israeli organisations and government agencies. Antivirus firms have said that Injustice is relatively benign, because it does not damage users' machines and its outbreak has been contained, and the main interest in its outbreak is the use of malicious code to deliver a political message.

Like the Anna Bug, Injustice is a Visual Basic Script worm which uses Microsoft Outlook to replicate. The worm arrives in an email message with the subject line "RE:Injustice" and an attachment injustice.txt.vbs.

Opening the infected attachment will cause a users machine to become infected and send the worm to 50 users in the victims Outlook address book as well as 25 Israeli organisations. The worm then runs Internet Explorer and opens the URLs of six pro-Palestinian Web sites, each in a new window. It then displays a message criticising the Israeli soldiers.

Antivirus vendors are updating virus definition files to detect Injustice and protection is largely in place.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at antivirus firm Sophos, said viruses have been developed with political messages in the past, such as a Word macro virus which protested French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. The difference with the Injustice worm was that it would bombard targeted Israeli organisations with spam.

"The nuisance of this virus is that government officials in Israel will be bombarded with viruses which could constitute an attempted denial of service attack against email systems," said Cluley.

The mass-mailing worm represents the latest twist in a battle between Israeli and Palestinian supporters on the Internet, which mirrors the bitter conflict between the two parties on the ground. Since the start of the Intifada last year each side has traded blows by defacing Web sites belonging to the other side of the conflict. ®

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