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German hate mail spam attack stuns experts

Virus spreads racist propaganda

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Mailboxes in Germany and the Netherlands were flooded yesterday with spam containing German right-wing propaganda. Spammers used the Sober.G virus - a mass mailing worm that sends itself to email addresses harvested from infected computers - to spread their messages as widely as possible.

Analysts think the spammers may have worked in tandem with virus programmers to hijack PCs and use addresses found there to build large distribution lists. This is believed to be the first time that right wing extremists have used spamming systematically to reach a broad audience. The sheer size of the operation stunned many experts.

Although none of the mails referred to it specifically, the European election may well have triggered the flood of racist emails. Some of the messages, with taglines such as "What Germany needs are German children", complained about the increasing numbers of immigrants from Turkey and Belarus, who are "driving criminality up" and are entering into "mixed relationships" with German women. Other mails, Deutsche Welle reports, warned of the rising cost of medical care on foreigners who increasingly travel to Germany as "medical tourists".

German magazine Der Spiegel reported that 80 per cent of the spam it received came from a server at the University of Rostock. The university says it will work with IT experts to trace the spam back to its original source.

According to the German news site Heise Online, the Sober G. virus seems to get its instructions from servers at home.arcor.de, people.freenet.de, home.pages.at, scifi.pages.at en free.pages.at, but there is still no conclusive evidence as to who orchestrated the unprecedented flood of hate emails.

Some suspect that the German newspaper Junge Freiheit ("New Freedom"), which seeks political respectability for a right-wing conservative body of thought, may have something to do with it, as some of the messages explicitly refer to it. ®

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