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"Harry Potter" Computer Worm Infecting PCs

Posted by: Edward
June 29, 2007, 04:52 PM

The Australian is reporting, a very serious computer worm (a self-replicating computer program) is being spread to computers via what people think is a word document file containing the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book stored on a flash drive, or similar medium. The W32/Hairy-A worm is spread to Windows users primarily through USB memory drives, which users plug into their computers and unknowingly transfer the malicious software to their hard drive, which in turn, copies itself to other USB memory drives and continues the cycle with any other PCs it is connected to. The article goes into further detail on this worm saying:

A file called “HarryPotter-TheDeathlyHallows.doc” can be found on infected PCs and once opened the only words inside are: Harry Potter is dead.

But it doesn’t end there.

The worm also creates a number of new Windows users on the computer which are named after the main characters in JK Rowling’s popular books including Harry Potter, Hermione Grainger and Ron Weasley.

Logging in to any of these new users and a message which sounds like it appeared from the evil Lord Voldemort himself can be seen: “Read and repent, the end is near, repent from your evil ways O Ye folks lest you burn in hell . . . JK Rowling especially”.

In addition whenever infected users open Internet Explorer they will find their home page has been re-directed to an web page selling the spoof book Harry Putter and the Chamber of Cheesecakes.

The report goes on to quote from a senior technology consultant, Graham Cluley, from internet security company Sophos who says of the wider effects and seriousness of this worm:

“Much of the world is waiting with bated breath for the final Harry Potter novel, and the premiere of the new movie is looming too so there is a real danger that muggles will blindly allow their USB flash drives to auto-run and become infected by this worm…”

“The fact that this worm has been inspired by the tales of a fictional schoolboy wizard doesn’t make it a harmless prank.

“A worm like this which infects and tampers with users’ computers without their permission is committing a criminal act.

Thanks to Diane for emailing.

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