June 1, 2005

Bagle virus in new outbreak

by brian_turner

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Anti-virus firm MessageLabs has recorded a “high outbreak” of a new variant of computer virus, Bagle. The company caught over 850,000 copies of the virus by Wednesday.

The Bagle virus arrives as an empty e-mail with an attachment. The attachment is a zip file which tries to download a trojan horse from a pre-selected list of websites when it is opened. These websites are located in different parts of the world, using a lack of common legalisation to make it more difficult to close them down. When the virus is activated, it sends itself out to all the e-mail addresses it finds on the computer’s hard drive.

MessageLabs intercepted over 45,000 copies of the virus in only one hour on Tuesday. It is thought that it originated from a Yahoo group.

The Bagle virus first appeared in January 2004 and there have been approximately 70 variants since then. According to Maksym Schipka, a senior anti-virus researcher at MessageLabs, the latest version tries to outwit hourly anti-virus firm security updates – on Tuesday eight different variables of the Bagle downloader were released every hour.

Producing variants to overload anti-virus firms is a technique which has been seen before, but the latest Bagle variants were released to correspond with the timing of the anti-virus updates.

Security experts advise computer users to protect their systems by ensuring anti-virus programs are updated.

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