Security Bytes: Lycos dishes it back to spammers

On the malware front, a new version of Skulls goes after mobile phone users and two new, but less threatening worms work with HTML files in directories. Czech virus writer Benny disputes a police arrest.

Lycos screensaver attacks spammers
Lycos Europe is having no trouble getting users to embrace its new screensaver program, which bogs spam servers down with a data deluge. Around 65,000 people signed up for the offensive, called "Make Love not Spam," before Tuesday's official launch, the company told The Associated Press. It's urging its 22 million users to download the screensaver, but says anyone with a computer is welcome to it. The company insists the technique is legal, that the spammers are hurt but not destroyed. According to the AP, the program activates whenever the computer it runs on goes into standby mode, and sends so-called HTTP get-requests to what Lycos said are servers known to generate spam. When done en masse, this eats up precious bandwidth, causing the servers to overload and slow down, the company said. Lycos Europe spokesman Kay Oberbeck said the goal is to "show the owners of such spam Web sites that there is massive interest of thousands of users who are not willing to just give up against more and more spam each day." Oberbeck acknowledged the risk of going after a legitimate site that has been hijacked by a spam-spewing site. "You have to be careful and that is what we are doing," he said. He said Lycos takes care not to crash spam servers altogether, respecting at least some of their bandwidth. "They will never go down below 5% bandwidth. Never."

Skulls-B Trojan targets Symbian smart phones
A new version of the Skulls Trojan horse is targeting Symbian smart phones and getting a lot of media attention. But Lynnfield, Mass.-based antivirus firm Sophos said people shouldn't be too worried. Skulls-B runs on the Symbian operating system, used by mobile phones such as the Nokia Series 60, and attempts to install a version of the Cabir virus, which can spread to other phones through short-range wireless Bluetooth communications. Despite widespread media reports, Sophos said it has received no reports from customers affected by it and the threat appears to be low. "Viruses for mobile phones make the headlines because they're relatively new and sexy compared to the many threats attacking regular desktop PCs every day," Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, said in a statement. "The simple fact is that your chances of being hit by a mobile phone virus is minute compared to the many malicious Windows worms spreading via e-mail and the Internet. Don't let the hype about mobile malware distract you from the real menace." Skulls-B has reportedly been posted on Web sites containing shareware applications for Symbian phones as an ICONS.SIS installation file. "Everyone should be security-conscious, and take care about running unknown or unsolicited code on their computer -- whether it be on a phone, a PDA, a desktop or a file server," Cluley said.

Benny breaks his silence
Czech virus writer Benny has broken his silence over reports he was arrested last week, SC magazine reported. After his house was raided Thursday, sources claimed the 21-year-old was held for questioning about Slammer, a worm that rampaged across the Internet last year. "Its a bull****! I was not arrested, I was just interviewed by police (sic)," the former member of the 29A virus writing group said in response to a Web log report from Russian antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab. The report claimed another member of 29A, Ratter, was also detained, but Benny refuted that too, SC magazine reported. It's been a bad month for 29A. Benny's departure for a more legitimate career with Czech firm Zoner Software preceded the formal withdrawal of another member, dis69.

Jabbit and Mugly are on the move
Panda Software of Glendale, Calif., said it has discovered two new worms in the wild: Jabbit-A and Mugly-A. Jabbit-A "infects the HTML files that are located in the directory where it is run," the company said in a statement. "It also creates copies of itself in the favorites folder, and makes all the links in this folder point to the virus, so that it will be run whenever the user attempts to use them." Mugly-A drops and executes another worm detected by Panda Software as Gaobot.BXG.worm. Mugly-A spreads by e-mail in a message with variable characteristics, always containing an attached file called attached.zip. Though unique, the antivirus company says neither worm has gained much traction in the enterprise world and both are currently listed as low threats.

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