(REUTERS) SEATTLE – A virus purporting to show images of Osama Bin Laden’s suicide popped up on the Internet on Friday, designed to entice recipients to open a file that unleashes malicious software code, security experts said.
The virus was attached to a message that was posted on over 30,000 usenet newsgroups and is not being spread via e-mail, said Web security vendor Sophos.
The U.S. government has been hunting for Bin Laden since 2001, holding him responsible for masterminding the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, but he has not yet been found.
Chris Kraft, senior security analyst at Sophos, said the message and virus was designed to lure unsuspecting readers into opening a file, similar to the Anna Kournikova virus that enticed readers to open a file that unleashed malicious software code.
“If you don’t know the person or the origin of a message, you shouldn’t be opening it,” Kraft said.
The fake Bin Laden suicide file, when opened, unleashes a program called a Trojan horse that makes it possible for attackers to take over infected personal computers running Microsoft Corp.’s (Nasdaq:MSFT – news) Windows operating system.
Kraft said the virus itself had already appeared on the Internet before, but the virus writer had apparently repackaged it by saying it contained Bin Laden’s suicide photos.