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VX writers latch onto Gulf War II tricks to spread worms

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Virus writers are attempting to tap into public interest in the imminent war between Iraq and the US to lure unwitting users into launching a new email-aware worm.

The Ganda-A worm uses a variety of different email subject lines (including 'Spy pics', 'G.W Bush animation' and 'GO USA !!!!') and message bodies to try and encourage computer users to run its viral attachment. This is explained in more detail in a Sophos advisory here.

Naturally those gullible enough to open infected attachments won't get the promised screensavers. Instead they'll contribute to the spread of the latest Windows worm, which is technically unremarkable.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus, said that although the virus hasn't spread widely it's a warning of the tricks virus writers are likely to employ during current international hostilities.

Although less common than sexual come-ons, virus that tap into interest in current affairs are by no means a new development. The Mawanella worm of 2001 highlighted the friction between Muslims and Buddhists in Sri Lanka while the "Injustice" worm (AKA VBS/Staple-A), disseminated a pro-Palestinian messages and spammed a number of Israeli Government email addresses.

Ganda-A is simply the latest in a sizeable line of political worms, so its just as well its easy to block.

The payload of the Ganda-A worm comes in the form of an executable attachment. Blocking such attachments in email, which have little or no legitimate use, is probably the simplest and most effective way to guard against Ganda-A and other similar viruses. ®

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