Feeds

Harry Potter worm claims death of teen wizard

Danger USB

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Hackers are attempting to exploit Potter-mania with the release of a worm that attempts to infect USB memory drives.

The Hairy-A worm poses as a file containing a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the eagerly-anticipated final novel in the Harry Potter series, due out on 21 July.

The infected file normally comes on infected USB drives. If users plug these drives into their Windows PCs they are liable to infect their machines, especially if they have allowed USB drives to "auto-run".

Infected drives contain a file called HarryPotter-TheDeathlyHallows.doc, a word document that contains nothing besides the phrase "Harry Potter is dead", instead of the hoped-for transcript. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the worm begins casting its malign spell. The worm looks for other removable drives to infect before creating a number of new users (Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley) that will be familiar names to fans of the JK Rowling books.

After logging in, users of infected machines will be confronted by the following message, which appears via a batch file:

read and repent

the end is near repent from your evil ways O Ye folks lest you burn in hell...JK Rowling especially

The worm also changes the Internet Explorer home page of compromised machines to an Amazon.com web page selling a parody book of the teenage wizard series entitled Harry Putter and the Chamber of Cheesecakes.

Anti-virus firm Sophos describes the malware as an "old school" virus written to cause mischief and to show off, rather than to rake in illicit funds. Security experts advise users to disable the auto-run facility of Windows so removable devices such as USB keys and CD ROMs do not automatically launch when they are attached to a PC. Removal media ought to be checked for malware before use in order to guard against the increased use of USB devices and the like as a vector for malware distribution.

The Hairy-A worm is far from the first time interest in the Harry Potter series has been exploited by cybercrooks.

In 2005, spammers tried to trick users into paying for a supposed advance copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince a few weeks before the release of the sixth book in the series. The year before, a virus posed as a copy of the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

Last month, a hacker claimed to have obtained a transcript of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after compromising the PC of one or more workers at Bloomsbury Publishing, the publisher of the Harry Potter series. The claim was treated with skepticism both in the computer hacking underground and among Potter fans. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Mozilla, EFF, Cisco back free-as-in-FREE-BEER SSL cert authority
Let’s Encrypt to give HTTPS-everywhere a boost in 2015
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.