The Archers fans ploughed by email virus

The latest twist in The Archers drama: a real-life computer worm

The BBC accidentally sent a mass-mailing worm to the subscribers of an email mailing list for fans of the radio soap opera The Archers last week, according to Sophos Anti-Virus.

The broadcaster has confirmed that The Archers fans were sent the Sobig worm, which scans a hard drive for email addresses and attempts to send itself to any addresses it finds, according to Sophos. Sobig hit the Internet last month and, despite being relatively harmless, spread so fast that it was labelled as a serious threat by most security firms.

"In this case, its replication was boosted by being spread via The Archers mailing list," said Sophos in a statement.

The Archers is the world's longest-running radio serial, and is broadcast around the world on the BBC's Web site. It follows the travails of life in the fictional village of Ambridge, and is meant to reflect real-world countryside issues such as genetically modified crops, the threat of cheap agricultural imports and the agony of discovering your husband has had a love child by another woman.

"Most antivirus vendors released protection against the Sobig worm as soon as it was detected, so Archers fans who have recently updated their antivirus software would have avoided infection," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

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