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New Obama Worm Probably a Student’s Mischief

Distributor of AVG's security software, Walling Data, has recently detected a computer worm that reportedly displays President Obama's tiny image. The company states that the malware was found on systems at a school in Illinois (US).

According to the company, the worm displays the picture every Monday at the bottom right hand corner of the infected computers' screens.

Jamz Yaneza, Senior Threat Researcher and Analyst, Trend Micro, said that the worm appears to be a version of MAL_OTORUN code that spreads via network shares and thumb drives, as reported by CnetNews on January 29, 2009. According to security experts, the method of spreading of the worm strikingly resembles the Conficker worm that recently proliferated across networks through USB sticks.

The experts also said that the new worm is really a nuisance rather than a threat as it has affected only a few computers. Further, it is probably not created for doing any harm as such. In contrast to the modern profit-driven malicious programs, the experts disclose the Obama virus doesn't plant an information-stealing program or convert the system into an externally controlled zombie computer.

The specialists revealed that the worm is probably a student's prank rather than a deliberately designed malware. Someone, according to Yaneza, might have tried his hand on a 'do-it-yourself' malware kit and simply attached Obama's photo as a social engineering bait.

The specialists also revealed that the security signatures were not able to detect the virus; thus, it was difficult to spot when computers were infected other than on Mondays. They further suspected the virus could be exploiting security flaws on un-patched computers. Obviously, users are recommended that they maintain their Windows operating system up-to-date with the latest security software.

Meanwhile, the experts pointed out that the Obama virus would probably not be a single incident, as the malware rapidly replicates itself. Schools are particularly vulnerable since they permit the use of USB flash drives and have only low security control with respect to online information sharing.

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