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Antivirus experts warn of 9/11 outbreak

Antivirus researchers have discovered what is being described as the first of potentially many "9/11" anniversary viruses spreading on the internet.

While it is too early to tell what, if any, damage the virus will cause, Eric Kwon, president and chief executive officer of Hauri, the company which discovered the virus, said its impact seems to be similar to that caused by the recent outbreak of the Sobig worm, which overloaded e-mail servers with large volumes of spam.

The 9/11 virus contains the headline "It's Near 911" or a similar variation, as well as an attachment labelled "911.jpg". Users should not open the e-mail or the attached file.

"Like previous worm viruses, the 9/11 virus collects e-mail lists from Microsoft Outlook to spread more rapidly, using the provocative headline about 9/11 to get the unsuspecting user to open the e-mail," said Kwon. "In this case, there also appears to be an intention of causing fear, as well as a possible political motivation."

Many virus experts have been expecting an outbreak of some kind of 9/11 virus or worm, and this may be just the first of many to appear during the next two weeks.

Antivirus company Symantec has also identified the virus, which it has called W32.Neroma@mm, on its website, saying it is a "mass-mailing worm that attempts to use Microsoft Outlook to e-mail itself to all the contacts in the Windows Address Book".

Dan Verton writes for Computerworld


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