Anti-child porn virus on the loose

A new strain of Windows virus tries to weed out perverts by identifying all files on PCs that may contain child pornography, then notifies the British authorities.

The "Noped" virus is sent as a VBS (Visual Basic Script) attachment on an email titled: 'Help us all to end illegal child porn now'.

Once the attachment is opened the virus will automatically direct itself to the recipient's address book to send itself on. It then scans the PC's hard drive for any JPEG pictures with titles that may indicate child pornography. If the virus locates any such files it will forward samples of them to a list of UK government agencies.

One PC World reader may already have been infected by the worm although it may be a variation on the same theme.

"The other night when I was downloading some stuff off a music site (Kazaa) I put in a search word for a particular song I wanted - I couldn't remember the artist's name.

"When the download was complete, and I accessed the item I was dismayed to find I had downloaded a kiddie porn video," says the reader, who was even more alarmed when his download utility informed him he would be "dobbed in to my ISP and that all my downloads would be monitored from now on."

The reader hasn't noticed any problems with either his PC or its download capability since receiving the file, and thinks it may be a hoax, but is still concerned that his name may have been added to a list somewhere.

According to Symantec's anti-virus research centre the Noped worm is a "low damage, high distribution" worm that searches a recipient's PC for files with specific names and .jpg extensions.

"If found, the worm sends a message to one random recipient from a list of government agencies".

"We are aware of this worm but as yet have not been alerted to any such [porn]," says a spokesperson for the UK National Hi-Tech Crime Unit. "On the face of it, it is a very good thing, but it may waste a lot of police time by highlighting files which do not contain illegal content but whose file names match those on the list."

Once the file has distributed the alleged porn it will then display a large text file displaying the international laws on child pornography.

"Even if the virus doesn't work it may deter a few people [from downloading child porn] and if innocent people are affected, if they have nothing to hide then they shouldn't worry," says a spokesperson for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in Britain.

Story courtesy of IDGNet New Zealand.

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Paul Brislen

PC World

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