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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 March, 2003, 17:34 GMT
E-mail virus exploits war interest
Missile being launched
As war breaks out so do computer viruses
Computer security experts are warning about a new e-mail virus that feeds on public interest in the war against Iraq.

The Ganda worm comes as an e-mail attachment with a variety of subject lines such as "Spy pics" and "GO USA !!!!".

Some of these claim to contain pictures of Iraq taken by US spy satellites and others offer screensavers mocking President Bush.

"The author of this virus is exploiting interest in current affairs by deliberately presenting his virus in this way," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos.

Playing on curiosity

"At a time of international crisis it is understandable that computer users will be interested in finding out the latest news from the Middle East," he said.

I am being discriminated by the swedish schoolsystem (sic). This is a response to eight long years of discrimination
Message inside the Ganda virus
Security firms say people may be tempted to share breaking news with their friends and colleagues via e-mail. But they are being warned to be extra vigilant.

"The message to users is simple: be suspicious of all unsolicited e-mails," said Mr Cluley.

The e-mail worm can send itself to all addresses in Microsoft Outlook as well as attempting to shut down anti-virus products.

Virus writers are becoming ever more cunning in how they persuade people to open infected messages.

Offering pictures of celebrities is a common ploy as is the use of big events such as the football World Cup and even the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

Currently the Ganda worm is regarded as fairly low risk and has failed to make a great impact.

E-mail filtering firm MessageLabs said it has only seen 246 copies so far globally, with the virus being most active in Sweden, Gibraltar and China.

It is thought to have been written in Sweden, as hidden inside the virus is a grievance with the Swedish educational system.

"Coded by Uncle Roger in Hõrnsand, Sweden, 03.03. I am being discriminated by the swedish schoolsystem (sic). This is a response to eight long years of discrimination."

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