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Worm burrows into Church of England email system

Infected bishop loses e-pistles

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The Bishop of Manchester has been unable to send or receive email messages for ten days following a computer virus infection.

The Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch's PC was hit by malware on March 3. Wider malware-linked problems with the diocese's email systems mean that a sizeable chunk of the 6,000 messages the bishop dispatched over the last ten months may have never have reached the internet, much less their intended recipients, the Manchester Evening News reports.

The paper adds that the Bishops of Bolton and Middleton, along with the Diocese of Manchester's central offices and its Archdeacons, have also been hit by similar problems. Messages sent to the church website may have been blocked by unidentified malware that also prevented several senior clerics from sending or receiving emails normally.

Techies investigating the outbreak reckon the malware has severely corrupted email systems. An audit discovered that a substantial number of messages sent by the Bishop of Manchester had either been deleted during sending or otherwise thrashed, a particularly inconvenient slip-up for Bishop McCulloch, who serves as the Church of England's communication spokesman.

A spokesman for the diocese defended its IT services. "The diocese receives about a million spam messages a year along with numerous virus attacks," he said. "The fact that one virus got through and the effect it has had on our systems vindicates the decision to move our IT provision."

The Bishop of Manchester has had tech-related trouble before - in June 2007 he objected that a segment of the Sony PlayStation game Resistance: Fall of Man included a shoot-em-up segment where players have to kill aliens within the setting of Manchester Cathedral. ®

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