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Malware Poses as CNN Alert

January 21st, 2005

Virus writers have started spreading a new email virus, which lures potential victims by disguising itself as a news alert from CNN. According to Sophos, an antivirus company, the new virus Crowt.A do not have a set number of subjects or anything particularly easy to predict.

The virus takes actual news headlines from CNN and aggregates that information into an actual email which looks almost exactly like a typical CNN Alerts email. Very few Sophos customers have reported that they been affected by Crowt.A so far, the company said.

“Virus writers are always looking for new tricks to entice innocent computer users into running their malicious code. This latest ploy feeds on people´s desire for the latest news,” Carole Theriault, a security consultant at Sophos, said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time CNN has been attacked. In 2000, many high profile news sites were attacked by Denial-of-Service attacks.

Once a user downloads and opens the infected email, the virus installs a program which allows remote intruders to take control of the PC and do what they want with a victim’s files. A program that records information entered into the infected computer, known as a keylogger, could also snare a victim´s log-in information, Sophos said in its description of the virus, which it is referring to as a worm.

“Many people subscribe to legitimate email news updates, but the message is simple – businesses need to makes sure their anti-virus detection is constantly updated and users need to be suspicious of all unsolicited email whether it´s promising celebrity pictures or news updates,” said Carole Theriault, security consultant at Sophos.

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