Hacker targets Sophos mouthpiece

Belgian hacker Gigabyte has developed a worm containing a game that awards points for coconuts thrown at Graham Cluley, the well-known Sophos spokesman
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

A row has once again broken out between two of the virus world's best known characters -- Sophos senior technology consultant and mouthpiece Graham Cluley, and Gigabyte, a female Belgian hacker.

Sophos has identified a worm -- which isn't in the wild -- called W32/Coconut-A. It is spread by email and takes the form of an executable file that launches a fair-ground coconut-shy game. The more points end users score, the fewer files the worm tries to infect.

The twist is that they score the most points for literally knocking Cluley's block off -- and the writer of the virus? Of course it is Gigabyte.

Gigabyte has written Cluley-focused malware in the past and last March, as a 17-year-old, famously created the first virus written in Microsoft's C# language, called Sharpei.

At the time Gigabyte told silicon.com that she hadn't done so to forward the cause of women using computers, saying in an email: "Writing Sharp to fight against sexism? Girl power? Heh... As if I'd bother."

However, Cluley and Sophos seem convinced Gigabyte is under the impression he thinks women and girls aren't computer savvy.

He told silicon.com: "She may have misunderstood my comments in the past. My point is that boys mature later than girls, which is why girls see how pointless it is writing viruses."

Cluley admitted Gigabyte, who is known to be a Belgian computer studies student and aged 18 or 19, is "a competent programmer". She has also become something of a sex symbol for young male hackers who frequently try to contact her via her website. She represents a kind of cyber-savvy Lara Croft figure, an image backed up after a silhouetted TV interview last year showed her kick-boxing.

Cluley added, with a touch of sarcasm: "She is fascinated in me for one reason or another. I'm in a position of authority, so maybe she looks up to me. I'd like to think she's taken with the cut of my jib."

He said the two hadn't been in touch. Gigabyte was unavailable for immediate comment.

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