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Israeli teenagers charged with Goner virus outbreak

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Five Israeli teenagers have been charged with creating and spreading the W32/Goner-A virus, which spread rapidly on the Internet after its release in December last year.

The Ha'aretz newspaper reports that the five were charged at Haifa District Court with wilfully causing damage to computers belonging to companies and private individuals around the world, including NASA, through their involvement in unleashing the virus.

One of the minors has been charged with writing the Goner virus, whilst the others have been charged with disseminating it. The indictment also claims that one of the group had previously written a virus targeting users of Internet chat rooms - but this failed to cause the intended damage.

The suspects could face between three and five years in jail if convicted, said Meir Zohar, head of the police computer crime squad.

W32/Goner-A spread via email, arriving with the subject line 'Hi' and carrying an infected attachment called GONE.SCR, posing as a screensaver. Once activated, the worm spread to all contacts in the user's Outlook address book, and via Internet chat. The virus has some nasty tricks up its sleeve, including trying to disable some anti-virus and personal firewalls applications.

A detailed analysis of W32/Goner-A is available here. ®

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