London, Oct. 31 (Reuters): A new e-mail virus capable of turning infected personal computers into “spamming” machines emerged today targeting corporate and home users in Europe and the US, a computer security expert said.
Anti-virus software makers Trend Micro reported that tens of thousands of its corporate computer users in France and Germany were hit this afternoon by the virus, dubbed “Mimail.C”.
By 16.30 GMT today, there were reports of infections in the US too, said Raimund Genes, European president of Trend Micro.
The firm had a “medium risk” rating on the bug. “We may be upgrading it to high risk if it spreads in the US,” he added.
The virus carries the subject message line “our private photos '”. Opening the e-mail triggers the virus into action.
The virus installs an SMTP, or simple mail transfer protocol, programme on an infected PC that turns the computer into a type of e-mail computer server capable of sending out torrents of virus-infected messages, Genes said.
The e-mail has spread quickly because it spoofs e-mail addresses, making it appear as if the e-mail comes from a friend or co-worker.
“It’s an old spammers trick,” said Genes.
The virus is not believed to be particularly damaging to the infected computer, but it has the potential to unleash a flood of virus e-mails that could bog down corporate networks, Genes said.
A technology for finding websites by typing words into the address bar of a browser is taking off in South Korea after failing in the US, and could make the Internet more accessible for non-English speakers.
For example, South Korean surfers who want to find the website for the official residence of their President can simply type “Blue House” or his name, “Roh Moo-hyun”, into the address bar in their own language, and the browser will go straight to the site.
The technology is the work of a company called Netpia that aims to cut out search engines. It already works for hundreds of thousands of Korean language addresses recognised by Netpia’s database, and the company is testing it in another 95 languages.
Website operators have to register key words with Netpia, for a fee, to make the service work.
“Two thirds of the world use non-English language and if this technology is adopted, it will make it much easier to find a website and thus boost cyber transactions and accessibility to web information,” Lee Pan-jung, chief executive at Netpia, said in an interview today.
“People feel more comfortable with their mother language and this technology is a very useful tool to spur the use of the Internet as it appeals even to children and elderly with no knowledge of English.”