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Thursday, June 3 12:00 AM ET

Virus Alert: IMterceptor

By Francisco Rangel

Cupertino, CA - Virus experts have issued a warning for a new self-propagating worm called IMterceptor, which causes problems with popular instant messaging programs like ICQ, AIM and MSN Messenger.

Experts announced that Windows 9x and Windows ME users are most vulnerable, but XP users should be wary. The virus places several keys in the infected computer's registry, which it uses to run itself at startup, with several other monitoring services.

The virus detects any instant messenger software installed and uses a keystroke recording service to obtain the user's password and personal information. After the virus has this information, it delivers its payloads in one of two different modes: passive or aggressive.

In aggressive mode, the worm pulls random comments from the user's IM logs and sends it to people on their contact list. Sometimes, it randomly inserts curse words into the messages. If the contact replies then it sends another random comment. If the worm grabs some sensitive information, it could cause major problems.

Harry Fleming, a victim of this worm, explained, "I was once joking with a friend about having a second wife, and the virus pulled one of those messages from my log and sent it to my wife, Karen. She would not believe me when I told her it wasn't me who sent her 'I'd make sure the second FUCK wife was a good cook unlike BITCH Karen.' That was the worst weekend of my life."

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In passive mode, the virus sends messages to a null device and inappropriate IM comments or insults are inserted in their place. Such messages include "I don't really love you," "Hate to tell you this on IM, but you were adopted," and the popular "Hon, don't have the credit card handy, can you give me the number?"

A modified version, IMterceptor-B, has a third mode, which intercepts all incoming messages and sends them to a null device. This causes the geek owning the infected computer to never receive another IM and become cut off from the outside world. It is feared that with the last thread of social interaction cut, the entire geek community would go insane thinking that some horrible disaster has befallen humanity.

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