FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) - A mass e-mail posing as a plea for aid
to help the victims of last month's Asian tsunami disaster is actually
a vehicle for spreading a computer virus, Web security firm Sophos
The worm appears with the subject line: "Tsunami donation! Please
help!" and invites recipients to open an attachment called
"tsunami.exe" -- which, if opened, will forward the virus to other
It could also initiate a denial-of-service attack against a German
hacking Web Site, Sophos said, in which the site's server would be
bombarded with messages, putting it out of action.
"Duping innocent users into believing that they may be helping the
tsunami disaster aid efforts shows hackers stooping to a new low,"
Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley said in a statement.
Sophos added that it had so far only received a small number of
reports of the worm, which it said was not the first to try to take
advantage of the Indian Ocean catastrophe in order to spread.
Another worm earlier this month propagated the message that the
tsunami was God's revenge on "people who did bad on earth."
And there have been a number of mass emails sent out in an attempt to
steal money, many of them versions of the so-called Nigerian Letter
scam, to which readers are invited to reply with their details,
apparently in order to help transfer large sums of money and receive a
One appears to be from a wealthy Thai merchant suffering from a fatal
disease who has lost his family in the tsunami disaster and needs
someone to collect millions of U.S. dollars from a European security
firm to distribute it to charities.
"I need a God-fearing and trustworthy person that will be able to
travel to Europe, to collect this deposit from the security company,"
the mail reads.
Sophos recommends recipients delete the mails and do not open the
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: This one could be retitled "What Else
is Old News?" I mean, using the Internet to take advantage of some
other person's misery and steal money? Gosh, what will folks think of
next. Presidents Clinton and Bush were on television together a few
days ago to make a joint appeal for tsunami relief funds. In the one
minute or so they both appeared together in the public service
announcement on TV Land they both stressed, 'we are doing this
together as private citizens, not as your current or former president
to ask you to **send what you can only to reputable, well-established
relief organizations.' TV Land has been playing that PSA several times
per day in the past week. That tsunami is going to be bad news for a
long time to come; now today at 162,000 deaths and they are still
counting, collecting bodies and disposing of them. PAT]