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William C. Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Mon, 17 Jan 2005 21:08:55 -0500


Computer Worm Exploits Tsunami to Spread Virus


Jan 17,2005


FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) - A mass e-mail posing as a plea for aid to
help the victims of last month's Asian tsunami disaster is actually a
vehicle for spreading a computer virus, Web security firm Sophos said
Monday.
The worm appears with the subject line: "Tsunami donation! Please help!" and
invites recipients to open an attachment called "tsunami.exe" -- which, if
opened, will forward the virus to other Internet users.
It could also initiate a denial-of-service attack against a German hacking
Web Site, Sophos said, in which the site's server would be bombarded with
messages, putting it out of action.
"Duping innocent users into believing that they may be helping the tsunami
disaster aid efforts shows hackers stooping to a new low," Sophos senior
technology consultant Graham Cluley said in a statement.
Sophos added that it had so far only received a small number of reports of
the worm, which it said was not the first to try to take advantage of the
Indian Ocean catastrophe in order to spread.
Another worm earlier this month propagated the message that the tsunami was
God's revenge on "people who did bad on earth."
And there have been a number of mass emails sent out in an attempt to steal
money, many of them versions of the so-called Nigerian Letter scam, to which
readers are invited to reply with their details, apparently in order to help
transfer large sums of money and receive a cut themselves.
One appears to be from a wealthy Thai merchant suffering from a fatal
disease who has lost his family in the tsunami disaster and needs someone to
collect millions of U.S. dollars from a European security firm to distribute
it to charities.
"I need a God-fearing and trustworthy person that will be able to travel to
Europe, to collect this deposit from the security company," the mail reads.
Sophos recommends recipients delete the mails and do not open the
attachments.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All right reserved.