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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 15:42 GMT
Goner virus arrests in Israel
Graphic, BBC
Four teenagers alleged to have authored the Goner Windows virus, which wrought havoc to computer systems worldwide in early December, have been arrested in Israel.

The high school pupils are reported to have confessed to creating and spreading the malicious program.

Although the authors used nicknames and stolen net accounts to hide their tracks, police took less than a week to find them because they left incriminating evidence on Israeli portions of the net.

A computer crime law passed in Israel in 1995 confers sentences of up to five years for the creation and distribution of virus programs.

Like many of the other Windows viruses that have plagued web users recently, the Goner virus exploited weaknesses in Microsoft's popular Outlook e-mail program.

Open Outlook

The message containing the malicious software brought an attachment masquerading as a screensaver, but anyone clicking on it launched a program that plundered their address book and tried to mail itself to the addresses it found there.

As well as mailing itself to e-mail contacts, the virus also attempted to delete the anti-virus software on the machine it infected. The virus could also spread via instant messaging and net chat channels.

The four teenagers, aged 15 and 16, created the virus so they could recruit an army of PCs, which could then be used to carry out attacks on other parts of the net on their behalf.

Israeli police said the writers of the Goner virus were easy to find because the aliases they used to sign the malicious program were also used to set up and manage accounts on an Israeli net service and a net-based instant messaging system.

Since being taken into custody, the four have reportedly confessed to creating and spreading the malicious program around the world.

See also:

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