War with Iraq will mean virus outbreak, hacker says

A Malaysian virus writer who is sympathetic to the cause of the al-Qaeda terrorist group and Iraq and who has been connected to at least five other malicious code outbreaks is threatening to release a megavirus if the U.S. launches a military attack against Iraq.

The virus writer, who goes by the handle Melhacker and is believed to have the real name of Vladimor Chamlkovic, is thought to have written or been involved in the development of the VBS.OsamaLaden@mm, Melhack, Kamil, BleBla.J and Nedal worms.

However, in an exclusive interview Wednesday with Computerworld, Melhacker confirmed earlier reports by Chantilly, Va.-based iDefense Inc. that he has developed and tested a "three-in-one" megaworm code-named Scezda that combines features from the well-known SirCam, Klez and Nimda worms.

"This is a real Internet computer worm," said Melhacker. "I will attack or launch this worm if America attacks Iraq." The worm has been ready and fully tested in his lab since August, he said. He also confirmed earlier intelligence reports that he has ties to both Russian hackers and Pakistani virus writers.

Brian Kelly, president and CEO of iDefense, said that while Melhacker hasn't proved adept at seeding new worms in the wild, this worm could be difficult to stop. IDefense quietly warned its clients last week about the potential for such a worm to hit the Internet, saying that companies should move to a heightened state of alert and watch for suspicious Internet traffic and e-mails if Iraq is attacked.

"If he were to be successful with this one, it could be very serious," said Kelly. "Although we are aware of his contacts with Russian and Palestinian code-authoring groups, we're not yet sure how strong those relationships are."

Vincent Gullotto, vice president at McAfee Security's Avert, a division of Network Associates Inc., said the threat posed by Scezda is completely dependent on whether or not Melhacker is successful in getting it to propagate.

"If he is, it could be very large," said Gullotto.

But it's difficult to speculate because there have been many such viruses that have gone nowhere, he said. "Until we see the virus moving in the wild, we consider it to be a low risk," Gullotto said.

Melhacker, who has also gone by the name Kamil, may have had some involvement in the September release of the BugBear mass-mailing network attack worm. According to iDefense, Melhacker has close ties to Nur Mohammad Kamil, who identifies himself as part of a group known as "A.Q.T.E. Al-Qaeda Network." Melhacker has also associated himself with the al-Qaeda network for a long period and has been an active Malaysian malicious coder threat for at least six years.

At least one of these worms, the Nedal worm (the name is Laden spelled backward) contained encrypted code, according to analysis conducted by iDefense. When decrypted, the code was shown to contain numerous Arabic names of unknown significance, as well as references to al-Qaeda.

In the case of the VBS.OsamaLaden@mm worm, the code leaves a message that references the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and then attempts to shut down a user's system and delete all files in the Windows System directory.

The continuing development of malicious code from pro-Islamic and pro-al-Qaeda hackers, especially in Malaysia, is of great concern and one that needs to be closely watched, according to an intelligence bulletin released last week by iDefense.

"While it might be true that al-Qaeda operatives are not well organized, skilled or equipped to mount a serious cyberoffensive, it is likely that al-Qaeda sympathizers will serve as surrogates in their cyberoffensive," said Kelly.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Verton

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?