Kournikova virus hits the Net

The virus, which spreads itself through e-mail systems using Microsoft Outlook in a way similar to the notorious "LoveLetter" virus, apparently made its way from Europe to the US overnight, according to Vincent Weafer, director of antivirus research for antivirus vendor Symantec.

The virus, which does not appear to cause any other damage than auto-sending itself, features one of three variants of the subject line "Here you go :-)" as well as three variants of the name for the attachment, based around "Anna.Kournikova.jpg.vbs." The image is intended to appear to be a .JPG image of Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova.

"We started getting reports from US customers overnight," Weafer said. "At this point, we believe it came from Europe, but we haven't been able to narrow it down any further yet," he added.

Because there are only three variants on the subject line and the name of the attachment, Weafer believes the virus will be easy to filter out, but he does not believe that it is a variant of any previously discovered virus.

Finland-based security vendor F-Secure, which calls the virus "Onthefly," said in a statement that it appears to be spreading faster than many of last year's bigger viruses, adding that it is currently spreading as fast as "LoveLetter," which infected an estimated 15 million computers.

According to Symantec's Weafer, the virus has hit "about 50" of Symantec's large customers so far.

"Most likely, this came from the virus generation kit, which allows 'script kiddies' to create viruses easily," he added. Script kiddies are computer users who usually lack programming skills, but use easy-to-assemble kits and scripts to create viruses.

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Douglas F. Gray

PC World

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