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US school in toothless Obama worm infection

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Security experts reckon a new low-threat worm that displays the image of President Obama on infected desktops is the work of technically-knowledgeable pranksters.

Infections of the worm appear to be confined to scores of desktops at the same (unnamed) Illinois high school, which contacted its anti-virus supplier. The outbreak puzzled security US reseller Walling Data, which in turn brought in the expertise of AVG's Roger Thompson.

Thompson reckons the worm probably exploits the same vulnerability as the infamous Conficker/Downadup worm (MS08-067), and spreads through network shares but is otherwise unrelated. "The worm is probably not a Conficker variant, because as far as we can tell, the source code is not available for Conficker," he writes.

In many ways the Obama worm is a throwback to an earlier, more innocent age when worms were created to gain notoriety out of simple mischief, rather than in order to establish a botnet of compromised PCs that might later be farmed out for profit. The malware does little beyond displaying a small image of Obama on infected desktops, according to preliminary analysis.

Adopting the role of detective, Thompson has some suggestions on likely suspects. "Given that Conficker source is probably not available, and if no one else ends up reporting this, there's some chance one of your students wrote it," he writes. "Find your smartest, geekiest, dweebiest kid, and look hard at him."

Thompson's write-up of the attack, complete with screenshots, can be found here. ®

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