New Virus Preys on Terrorism Fears

A new virus that exploits public fear of terrorism in the wake of the recent attacks has begun appearing in the United States but is unlikely to spread very far, experts say.

The virus, known variously as W32.Vote and Troj_Vote, is a garden-variety mass mailer, except for two unique characteristics: It arrives with an executable attachment named WTC.exe that when launched attempts to reformat the machines C: drive.

It spreads by mailing itself to every name in the users Microsoft Outlook address book, and the e-mail carries a subject line of "FW: Peace between America and Islam." The body of the e-mail asks the recipient to vote on whether the United States should go to war.

Once executed, the virus attempts to delete some anti-virus files and then reformats the PCs C: drive, according to a bulletin released by anti-virus vendor Trend Micro Inc., in Cupertino, Calif.

The virus has not spread very quickly thus far, with only a handful of companies reporting infections. Also, over the last couple of years, many corporations have installed filters that prevent executable files from entering their networks.

However, the social engineering aspects of the virus could give it more longevity than it would otherwise have.