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18 May 2001

Sri Lankan virus spreads political message

A new virus highlighting the friction between Muslims and Buddhists in Sri Lanka holds little threat to computer users according to Sophos Anti-Virus. However, the Mawanella worm (also known as VBS/VBSWG-Z), named after a Muslim village, is yet another illustration of virus writers using malicious code as a political platform.

The worm arrives as an email with the subject line 'Mawanella'. If launched, it then proceeds to forward itself to everyone in the user's address book. Once activated, a message appears describing the burning down of two mosques and one hundred Muslim-owned shops in Mawanella.

"Ken from Walsall doesn't normally send you emails about Sri Lankan villages. Most people would be suspicious if they received an email like this from a friend or colleague, so we aren't expecting the Mawanella worm to spread extensively," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "Although politically-motivated viruses are on the rise, they are unlikely to spread as far as those that rely on the psychology of sex."

 mawanella

Previous politically-motivated viruses include the Injustice worm (also known as VBS/Staple-A), which disseminated pro-Palestinian messages and spammed a number of Israeli Government email addresses.

Sophos reminds users that if they have updated their anti-virus protection and follow a policy of not opening unsolicited or suspicious attachments, worms and viruses such as Mawanella hold little threat.


About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.