Thursday, March 04, 2004

Yahoo News stories don't stay at their urls, but here's this item:Virus Writers Use Internet Worms for War of Words

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The creators of the Netsky, MyDoom and Bagle e-mail viruses have taken to exchanging insults in what amounts to a war of words in computer code between rival hackers, anti-virus experts said on Wednesday.

On one side are the creators of MyDoom and Bagle, who are believed to be spammers or spam groups because many variants of the viruses leave backdoors on infected computers that can be used to turn them into spam zombies, said Chris Belthoff, senior security analyst at anti-virus company Sophos Inc.

On the other side is the person or group responsible for the Netsky virus, who do not have any profit motive, he said.

"It almost seems like they are playing a war of one-upmanship," Belthoff said. "They could be jealous over the media attention the others are getting."

Versions of the three computer viruses, all self-propagating e-mail worms, have wreaked havoc on computers across the Internet since early this year.

Updated anti-virus software can detect and block the viruses.

The latest version of Netsky, dubbed Netsky.F, has a message in the code that says "Bagle - you are a looser!!!! (sic)" and an earlier version says: "MyDoom.F is a thief of our idea!"

Code in Mydoom.F and Bagle.I and Bagle.J addresses Netsky's creator directly, using expletives. One message tells Netsky: "don't ruine our bussiness, wanna start a war?"

Bagle.K, the latest version of Bagle, masquerades as an e-mail from a company's information technology department, Belthoff said.

The most recent variant of MyDoom, MyDoom.G, opens up a backdoor and directs infected computers to launch an attack on the Web site of anti-virus company Symantec Corp.

Netsky.F, the newest version of that virus, tries to deactivate earlier MyDoom and Bagle variants, he added.

Five of the latest versions of the viruses were released within three hours on Wednesday morning, according to Russian-based anti-virus vendor Kaspersky Labs.

"It's hard to imagine a more comical situation: a handful of virus writers are playing unpunished with the Internet, and not one member of the Internet community can take decisive action to stop to this lawlessness," Eugene Kaspersky, head of anti-virus research at the company, wrote in a release.

(Additional reporting by Alberto Alerigi in Sao Paulo.)