Storm virus hits computers

'Clever timing' taking advantage of recent storms

Computer virus writers attacked thousands of computers around the world today by circulating a junk email with information about the devastating storms currently raging around Europe.

Finnish data security firm F-Secure stated that the virus, named Storm Worm , was emailed to hundreds of thousands of addresses globally using the subject line "230 dead as storm batters Europe".

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Attached files - named 'Full Clip.exe', 'Full Story.exe', 'Read More.exe', and 'Video.exe' - contained so-called malware that can infiltrate computer systems.

"The timing is particularly clever," Mikko Hyppönen, head of research at F-Secure, said. "They are taking advantage of people's curiosity in a natural disaster that has news value."

Hyppönen said at least 10,000 computers, mostly private machines, had been affected worldwide. He said most users would not notice anything abnormal happening to their computers.

The malware, or Trojan, creates a 'back door' to the computer that can be exploited later to steal data, or to use the computer to post spam.