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Spam emails that try to dupe Windows users into infection by offering information about the supposed capture of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden were sent to an estimated one million surfers yesterday. The bogus emails attempt to seed infection of a new downloader Trojan, Small-AXR, contained in a pics.scr file within a zip attachment of the fraudulent messages.

The text of infected messages typically states:

Turn on your TV. Osama Bin Laden has been captured. While CNN has no pictures at this point of time, the military channel (PPV) released some pictures. I managed to capture a couple of these pictures off my TV. Ive attached a slideshow containing all the pictures I managed to capture. I apologize for the low quality, its the best I could do at this point of time. Hopefully CNN will have pictures and a video soon. God bless the USA!

Subject lines of the virus-infected email include: "God Bless America!", "Captured! Finally!" and "Finally! Captured!". Anti-virus vendors urge users to ignore any such message and, more particularly, to avoid the temptation to click on the attachment.

Email filtering firm BlackSpider Technologies said that over one million emails containing a downloader Trojan have been sent globally since 7.15pm on Wednesday (2 June).

The Small-AXR Trojan is the latest in a growing list of attempts by virus writers to exploit interest in the infamous al-Qaeda leader to spread malware. Last July VXers tried to trick users into opening a Hackarmy Trojan horse on their PC by passing malicious code off as "suicide photographs" of bin Laden. At a result, Usenet newsgroups are overflowing with bogus messages claiming that journalists found the terrorist leader's hanged body. In November, similar tactics were used in an attempt to spread infection of the Famus-F worm. ®

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