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Spammer blamed for SoBig. F virus

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August 22, 2003

A spammer could be behind SoBig.F, the fastest growing computer virus, according to an Internet analyst. The virus has infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide and cost an estimated $50 million in damages in the U.S. alone.

Paul Wood, of Internet security company MessageLabs, said computers that had been infected with previous strains of SoBig had been used to send spam e-mail. SoBig.F arrives in an e-mail, probably from someone in your address book, with an attachment typically marked "your details" or "thank you."

If you open the attachment it exposes a security hole in your computer and enables someone else to send even more e-mails with your name on them. Asked Friday who might be behind SoBig.F -- the sixth strain of the worm -- Wood said: "It looks like someone who wants to make a profit out of spam."

But he warned that catching the culprit would be hard, even with the FBI on the case. "Spammers live in a very shady world between what's legal and illegal. Eighty percent of the world's spam comes from fewer than 200 spam gangs in the U.S.

"It's very difficult to identify the author of this kind of virus because they have given it so much thought to hide their origins. They use someone's insecure computer to launch the seeding of the virus." From the time that MessageLabs first detected SoBig.F on Monday, it took anti-virus companies at least 12 hours to release updated software to combat it, Wood told CNN.

"It was able to get a big foothold in these 12 hours." Meanwhile, individuals and businesses are fighting the consequences, deleting unwanted e-mails, updating anti-virus patches and strengthening corporate fire walls.

"The most vulnerable user is the small business that might not understand the risk," said Wood. "They might have anti-virus software but this might not filter all the e-mail. With broadband, computers are left on all the time so they are extra vulnerable."

Source: White Hats

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