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Hackers and Virus Writers Haphazardly Take to War Theme

The beginning of war in Iraq prompted a rash of protest hacking on the Internet, with new war-themed viruses and Web page defacements directed at the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. But the devastating new worms and viruses that were predicted by some have so far failed to materialize. Two new worms were discovered in the past two weeks with Iraq themes, says Mikko Hyppönen, manager of antivirus research at F-Secure Corp. of Helsinki, Finland. One, named Prune, arrives as an e-mail with the subject “US Government Material—Iraq Crisis.” An attachment named UN_Interview.txt.vbs launches the Visual Basic Script worm, which spreads copies of itself using e-mail, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and network shares. A second worm, Ganda, arrives as an e-mail purporting to contain pictures from U.S. satellites and “G.W. Bush animation.” Users are prompted to click on a Windows screen saver file attachment, launching the virus. Web site defacements also spiked in the days leading up to war, Hyppönen said. With this type of attack, hackers compromise Web servers belonging to their targets, then replace the official Web page content with their own content, which is often inflammatory statements or political messages. F-Secure recorded around 200 defacements in the 48 hours before hostilities began. On Friday, another 1,000 sites were defaced. Full Story

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