A destructive virus, which tries to exploit anxiety generated by approaching military action, has been released on the Internet.
Vote, a mass mailing virus that affects only Windows PCs, normally comes in an email with the subject line "Fwd:Peace BeTween AmeriCa And IsLam !", inviting users to "vote" on peace by clicking on an attachment, which in reality contains malicious code.
If a user open the attachment (normally called WTC.EXE), the virus attempts to delete files associated with the user's anti-virus program, overwrite HTML files and download Trojan horse files from the Internet. Worse still, it attempts to format a user's hard disk when a user next tries to reboot.
To spread, the virus will also send itself to contacts in a user's Microsoft Outlook Address Book.
So far the virus has not spread particularly widely but its destructive effects, which aren't technologically new, mean Windows users would be wise to keep an eye out for it. The fact that virus writers have sought to take advantage of U.S. sentiment concerning the possibility of military action in the Middle East, fulfilling FBI predictions along this line, is also of note.
PC users are advised to delete suspicious messages and on no account to open attachments matching the description for the virus. Anti-virus vendors are in the process of updating signature files to detect Vote, and protection in now largely in place. ®
FBI condemns vigilante hacking
Bush admin to make hacking a terrorist offence
Nimda worm tails off
Teenage Mutant Nimda email rides the Code Red worm
SirCam tops Virus charts
Users haven't learned any lessons from the Love Bug