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C# virus pitched against .NET

Sharpei is low risk, but worrying

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A new virus uses Microsoft's C# language to target .EXE files under the Microsoft .NET Framework.

The Sharpei mass-mailer targets machines running .NET and consists of three components: a simple file dropper program, a mass mailer which uses Microsoft Outlook to spread, and a .NET component.

Although considered low risk, Sharpei is noteworthy because the replication code of the virus is written in C#. This makes closer to a platform-independent .NET virus than Donut, which caused a stir as the 'first' (purportedly) .NET virus in January.

Mikko Hyppönen, manager of anti-virus research at F-Secure, said Donut only contained a .NET wrapper around a traditional Windows virus, whereas Sharpei runs on .NET natively.

Sharpei affects only machines running Intel architectures but .NET viruses are a concern for the future because it could become an avenue to infect PDAs and smartphones, he added.

".NET compatible implementations on PDAs are still at least a year off but when they come in it might be possible to create mobile viruses by accident," Hyppönen warned.

Sharpei tries to pass itself off as a Windows security update, and the unlikely event you see it (the virus isn't spreading widely) it might drop into your In-box with the subject: "Important: Windows update" and an infected attachment, MS02-010.exe.

Microsoft never sends out security updates by email, but the gullible recipients who fall for this trick will activate Sharpei. The virus is explained in more detail here.

Antivirus vendors are updating their tools to detect Sharpei (which, unusually, was written by a female virus writer called Gigabyte), and protection is now largely in place. ®

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