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20 Dec 2005

Sober worm persuades child porn offender to turn himself in to police

A paedophile who received an email from the Sober-Z worm gave himself up to the police.

A media report by Reuters has revealed that a child porn offender has turned himself in to the authorities after mistaking an email sent by a computer worm as an official warning that he was being investigated.

The 20-year-old German man, who has not been named, mistook a message sent by the prevalent Sober-Z worm which claimed he was being investigated by Germany's Federal Crime Office (known as the BKA) for visting illegal websites. Police at the city of Paderborn charged the man after finding pornographic pictures of children on his computer.

"We're used to explaining to people that there's no such thing as a good virus, but in this case it appears that the Sober-Z worm has accidentally scared an internet paedophile into contacting the police." said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "If he had been scanning his email for viruses he would never have received the message from the Sober worm. If jailed he'll have plenty of time to reflect on whether he should have believed everything that was sent to him via email."

The W32/Sober-Z worm, which is presently accounting for over 78% of all viruses reported to Sophos, can disguise itself as a message from investigators at the FBI, CIA or BKA. A typical email can read as follows:

Dear Sir/Madam,

We have logged your IP-address on more than 30 illegal Websites.

Important: Please answer our questions! The list of questions are attached.

Yours faithfully,
Steven Allison
Federal Bureau of Investigation-FBI-
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW , Room 3220
Washington , DC 20535
Phone: (202) 324-30000

Sophos customers proactively protected against Sober-Z worm

Sophos's proactive Genotype™ technology was capable of detecting the Sober-Z worm proactively (naming it as W32/Sober-Gen), defending customers' computers without requiring an update. Sophos PureMessage, Sophos's consolidated email gateway solution which defends businesses against both spam and viruses, can also block the spam messages sent by the worm.

Sophos recommends companies protect their email with a consolidated solution to thwart the virus and spam threats and secure their desktops and servers with automatically updated anti-virus protection.

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