Sri Lankan hackers release political virus

The Mawanella email, which carries a political payload, was built with the same virus writing toolkit used to create Kournikova

Hackers fighting on behalf of the Sri-Lankan Muslim population have released an Internet worm that spreads by emailing itself to everyone in an infected PC's Outlook address book.

The worm -- dubbed Mawanella -- was created by a hacker using the virus writing kit, VBS Worm Generator, better known for having spawned the Kournikova virus epidemic, at the beginning of this year.

The worm arrives in the form of an email with the subject line, "Mawanella." When the attachment is opened it displays a window with a picture of a burning house and the following message:

"Mawanella is one of the Sri Lanka's Muslim Village. This brutal incident happened here 2 Muslim Mosques & 100 Shops are burnt. I hat this incident. What about you? I can destroy your computer I didn't do that because I am a peace-loving citizen."

The worm copies itself to the Windows system directory, gains access to the Microsoft Outlook address book and sends itself to all the email addresses listed there.

Data security software firm, Kaspersky Labs, has received reports of Mawanella being in the wild. Anti-virus firm. Sophos has also received about a dozen reports of Mawanella arriving in UK mailboxes. Sophos' computer security expert, Graham Cluley believes it is far from as big a threat as the recent Homepage virus, but notes the rise of political hacks. "We are increasingly seeing viruses with a political payload. While 20 years ago street protesters may have used grafitti, now people are using viruses to get their messages across."

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