Latest virus a sober threat

Windows users should look out for the latest mass-mailing computer virus, which spreads using a message faked to appear as if sent from the FBI, the agency warned on Tuesday.

 

The worm, dubbed W32.Sober.X by Symantec (the owner of SecurityFocus), uses its own e-mail engine to spread quickly and undermines the security of the infected Windows system. The program harvests addresses from the victim’s machines and sends itself as an e-mail attachment to each address. The accompanying message will be either in German for .de and .at domains, but otherwise in English.

 

"These e-mails did not come from the FBI," the agency said in a statement published on Tuesday. "Recipients of this or similar solicitations should know that the FBI does not engage in the practice of sending unsolicited e-mails to the public in this manner."

 

Antivirus firm F-Secure calls it "the largest e-mail worm outbreak of the year" and e-mail security firm MessageLabs has stopped more than 2.7 million e-mails carrying the virus. The amount of e-mail traffic generated puts the program on par with the first Sobig virus but falls far short of the 100 million e-mail messages generated by MyDoom in the first 36 hours.