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Claims of Osama bin Laden's capture by US soldiers and conspiracy rumours about Pope John Paul II's death are just two of the supposed news stories tricking internet users into launching a new email virus.

The Kedebe-F worm spreads itself through email posing as breaking news stories about the supposed arrest of the author of the Mydoom worm and the death of Michael Jackson, warns anti-virus firm Sophos. Windows users who launch the attached file risk disabling their security software and firewalls and passing the infection onto other computer users.

The worm appears through a variety of messages, including the following;

someone sent me this document which is stolen from a secret government body and deals about John Paul's death. It says he was killed by two 'doctors' who were hired by some government bodies. The text attached contains all the story behind his death and who these doctors are.

Clicking on the attached file opens the worm, which then then spread to other internet users via email.

"Hackers are constantly trying to dupe computer users into running malicious code with the promise of breaking news stories," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Internet criminals have no respect for taste and decency. All they're interested in is making money, and other computer users' lives a misery. We wouldn't be surprised to see other public figures having their names abused by virus writers and spammers in the future."

The Kebede-F worm is not reported to be spreading widely. Users are recommended to practice safe computing (not opening suspicious emails) as well as running up-to-date anti-virus software. ®

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