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03 Aug 2004

Hackers reach new low with claims Nick Berg is alive, Sophos reports on latest Trojan horse disguise

Nick Berg
Nick Berg was brutally killed in Iraq, but hackers are claiming he is alive in order to spread a Trojan horse

Experts at Sophos are warning computer users that a file claiming to contain video footage showing that American captive Nick Berg is alive and well in Iraq actually contains the same Trojan (Troj/Hackarmy-A) which posed as a suicide note from Arnold Schwarzenegger and photographs claiming Osama Bin Laden had killed himself.

The latest message, posted to tens of thousands of internet newsgroups, claims that Aljazeera has released video footage of the beheaded American alive and well. This message reads as follows:

Conspiracy theories of Nick Berg being alive and well in Iraq have today been proven true. Aljazeera have released video footage of the supposedly beheaded American captive. The clip was first "discovered" on an Islamic website in Malaysia and has now been released by American Journalists collaborating with Aljazeera. The evidence speaks for itself and viewed firsthand here.
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"Duping innocent users into believing that Nick Berg is in fact alive shows hackers stooping to a new low," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "This gruesome insensitivity is a despicable ploy to get curious computer users to download malicious files. The people behind Hackarmy are well versed in using morbid tricks to entice unsuspecting users - having recently claimed that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Osama Bin Laden were dead. This time, in an attempt to infect yet more PCs, they've resorted to claims that someone who was brutally killed is in fact alive."

Nick Berg was beheaded by Iraqi insurgents earlier this year who said they were avenging the Iraqi prisoners abused at Abu Ghraib jail by American soldiers. A video of Berg's gruesome death was broadcast on an Arabic website.

Sophos continues to recommend that computer users practise safe computing and keep their anti-virus and firewall defences up-to-date.

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.