New Coconut worm knocks block off anti-virus expert, "Shy away" says Sophos

July 16, 2003 Sophos Press Release

Sophos has today issued protection against the new Coconut worm (W32/Coconut-A) which sends itself via email in the form of a coconut shy game.

If users play the game - which involves throwing coconuts at the heads of notorious Belgian hacker, Frans Devaere, and Sophos's own senior technology consultant, Graham Cluley - they accrue points. The more points the user scores, the fewer files the worm tries to infect.

The female virus writer known as Gigabyte has confessed to writing this worm. This is the second virus she has written dedicated to Cluley and follows the Parrot worm which was released in mid-2001. Gigabyte has centred her attention on Cluley since he claimed that the majority of virus writers are male.

"Gigabyte remains obsessed by proving to the world - and to me in particular - that it's not just blokes who can write viruses," said Cluley. "My point has never been that women are incapable of writing viruses; it's just that - in most cases - they have better things to do with their time."

"That said, all this attention from Gigabyte is flattering. Next time, chocolates or flowers would be nicer," continued Cluley.

The Coconut worm spreads by email and comes with the attachment 'coconut.exe'. If users double-click on this attachment the worm automatically propagates to all contacts in the user's address book and fires up the game.

The game awards one point for knocking off Devaere's head and two points for knocking off Cluley's. The more proficient the user is at playing the game, the fewer files the worm will go on to infect. For example, if the user gets no points, the worm infects six files; if they get one point, five files will be targeted; and so on.

Sophos has received no reports of the Coconut worm circulating in the wild, but recommends that users block all executable code at the email gateway in order to prevent worms such as this from infiltrating their IT systems.