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Malware by numbers: online virus creation tool spotted

Pirate site for click kiddies

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The world's first online virus generator has surfaced - but there's no need to get too alarmed, antivirus experts say.

The Instant Macro-Virus Maker can be used to create macro viruses and dispenses with the need for virus writers to download virus creation toolkits.

Wannabe click kiddies need only visit the site which has both Romanian and English versions, and follow a few simple instructions.

MI_pirat, the site's author, boasts that no programming skills or download are needed to create a virus using the toolkit.

"Choose from the options (few, I know, but it's the first edition) and then copy/paste the generated code into a Word (97...2000 etc.) module named after the virus. Enjoy!!!" he adds.

The site is published on a public, free server (which hasn't yet being removed) and also exposes known dangerous viruses, and the author's own virus library.

Sofwin, the Romanian anti-virus firm which first reported the tool, warns that the author could develop his tool beyond relatively innocuous macro viruses so that it can be used to generate more virulent malware. But other AV firms are less concerned.

Eric Chien, chief researcher at Symantec's Anti-Virus Research Lab, said the toolkit is nothing to get too worried about.

"Macro viruses are getting close to being a thing of the past. The last major outbreak of a macro virus was Melissa," Chien said. "This [toolkit] generates the simplest of macro viruses and isn't a worm, which can spread by email or network attachments."

Chien added that any virus created by the toolkit would be automatically detected using heuristic (automatic) detection features found in the AV scanners of most major vendors.

Some AV vendors, like Sophos, omit the use of heuristics (which they believe can lead to false positives) but Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said it is a trivial task to update any anti-virus product to detect any virus generated with the kit.

"It's very much a storm in a teacup," he told us.

Virus writing toolkits have been used to create several virulent viruses of late - including the infamous Anna Kournikova worm - and we hope the ISP hosting the site pulls the plug at the earliest opportunity. ®

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