Hunt on for porn-meddling virus writers
Outbreak of Homepage worm under control
The hunt is on for the authors of the Homepage worm amid signs that the outbreak of the virus has been brought under control.
Homepage masquerades as a harmless Web site recommendation but in reality it directs users to one of four porn sites. It is also said an email copy of itself to everyone in an infected user's Outlook address book, an effect that is clogging up email servers worldwide.
Homepage was created with a newer version of the same virus-writing toolkit that spawned the Anna Kournikova worm.
A popular theory in the anti-virus community is that the porn-peddling worm might be a misguided marketing ploy.
Wired reports that three teenagers from the Netherlands have sent an anonymous email claiming responsibility for the virus. They said they created the worm to boost traffic to four porn sites but they did not say whether they owned the sites or knew their owners.
The self-proclaimed virus writters said they were jealous of the attention lavished on the creator of the Anna Kournikova worm, OnTheFly, who also hails from the Netherlands.
Graham Cluley, of antivirus firm Sophos, said the virus authors might be tracked down through the records of Adultcheck.com, which acts as an agent to collect money from porn web sites.
The rate of spread of the virus itself seems to be dying out just 24 hours after it was first unleashed.
MessageLabs, a managed services firm that scans its users email for viruses, reports that it is now intercepting hundreds of viruses an hour, compared with the thousands it intercepted yesterday. In total MessageLabs has intercepted 26,500 copies of the virus, higher than for the Anna Kournikova worm - but taken from a larger user base.
Sophos' Cluley said that 155 companies had contacted it about the virus but not all of these were actually infected. The outbreak was less severe than either the Love Bug or Anna Kournikova worm, he says.
Figures on how many people were actually infected by the virus are hard to pin down but emails received Register readers reveal several firms were caught out by the virus and had to take down their email servers.
According to Cluley, firms should consider blocking Visual Basic scripts in emails; this will stop the spread of Homepage and other similar Internet worms. ®