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Virus writers are taking advantage of the winter storms ravaging Northern Europe to launch a malware blitz of their own.

The attack attempts to trick users into executing malicious files containing Trojan horse code, that pose as information about the inclement weather. The Trojans are being distributed in messages with subject lines such as "230 dead as storm batters Europe", and infectious attachments containing the Small-DAM (AKA DwnLdr-FYD) Trojan. Attachments may contain one of the following filenames: Full Clip.exe; Full Story.exe; Read More.exe and Video.exe.

If executed, the payload turns infected machines into compromised, zombie clients under the control of hackers. The assault was picked up by F-Secure's Security Labs in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during the very early hours of Friday (European time). The timing of the assault and its detection in Asia has led researchers towards the conclusion that the attack has been launched from the region.

UK anti-virus firm Sophos reports that the malware accounts for one in every 200 emails it has monitored over the last 12 hours. Two in every three reports of malware tracked by Sophos on Friday involved reports of the Trojan.

For added effect, the malware also comes in emails carrying other provocative subject lines including: "British Muslims Genocide", "Naked teens attack home director", "A killer at 11, he's free at 21 and kill again!" and "US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has kicked German Chancellor Angela Merkel".

But the main attack vector in the Trojan attack is focused on news of storms of up to 200kmph which have ravaged northern Europe over the last day or so and claimed 33 lives so far, including 10 fatalities in both Britain and Germany.

No human disaster these days is complete without a topical piece of malware, it would seem. Similar - though arguably less ferocious attacks - followed the London bombing attacks of 2005, hurricane Katrina, and the Asian tsunami of 2004. ®

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