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25 Mar 2003

Suspected Ganda virus author questioned by Swedish police - worm posed as spy satellite photos of Iraq

MapAccording to media reports in the Swedish press, computer crime officers in Sweden have identified and questioned the suspected author of the W32/Ganda-A worm. The worm, which posed as a screensaver offering spy satellite photographs of Iraq, caused much concern when it began to spread last week.

According to the Swedish police authorities involved in the hunt, the worm offered valuable clues as to the author's likely location, believed to be in the Haernoesand area of Sweden. Reports indicate that the authorities searched the suspect's house and seized computer equipment for analysis.

The suspect, whose name has not been made public by the authorities, is believed to have admitted his involvement in spreading the virus during questioning, according to Torbjörn Ull, an IT crime specialist working with the Swedish police.

"The authorities appear to have moved quickly in locating this virus author," said Carole Theriault, anti-virus consultant at Sophos. "It is good to see computer crime authorities around the world taking the virus threat more seriously. The worm author was particularly insidious in using current events to spur the general public into double-clicking on the infected attachment."

The W32/Ganda-A worm spread via email, feeding on public interest in news about war in Iraq by pretending to contain secret spy satellite pictures. The worm used a variety of other email subject lines and message bodies, including some mocking US president George W Bush.

The worm, which could spread in either English or Swedish language, appears to have been particularly successful in spreading in Sweden. Infected users in Sweden may have been lulled into a false sense of security when they received an email in their native language, rather than the English adopted by many viruses.

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.