Feeds

Harry Potter worm claims death of teen wizard

Danger USB

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Google recommends pronounceable passwords
Super Chrome goes into battle with Mr Mxyzptlk
Reddit wipes clean leaked celeb nudie pics, tells users to zip it
Now we've had all THAT TRAFFIC, we 'deplore' this theft
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
TorrentLocker unpicked: Crypto coding shocker defeats extortionists
Lousy XOR opens door into which victims can shove a foot
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
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 for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.