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Meet NetSky-X, the Babel Fish worm

Windows malware mangles nine languages

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NetSky-X, the latest in the ever-expanding series of pesky computer worms, displays a dalliance with foreign languages previously unknown among virus writers.

The latest Windows-only nuisance - discovered today - sends messages in either English, Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Italian, French or German. The "polyglot worm" is spreading extensively, particularly in mainland Europe. This spread is doubtless helped by the fact most users will be thrown by seeing an infectious email in their own language and not English, as is the norm. That's not to say the unknown author of the worm is any good at languages, though.

"In many cases the messages are composed incorrectly suggesting that the worm's author did not ask native speakers for translation or used an on-line translation service like Babel Fish," Finnish AV firm F-Secure notes.

In most respects NetSky-X is very similar to its 23 siblings.

It spreads via email, with users becoming infected when they click on the message attachment (which typically has a .PIF file extension) to open it. Email subject lines say "Re: document" or some bad translation of the same. The worm contains a payload which attempts to launch a DoS (Denial of Service) attack on three German language websites between 28 April and 30 April 2004. These websites are www.nibis.de, www.medinfo.ufl.edu and www.educa.ch.

As usual, users are advised to minimise risk of infection by not clicking on unknown email attachments. Updating AV signature files is another sensible precaution for users stuck with Windows. Mac and Linux users are - as usual - immune. ®

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