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'Pretty Girl' virus author a 21-year-old Vietnamese stu... - 4/14/2006 4:07:38 PM   

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The creator of the 'Pretty Girl' virus that swiftly infected more than 20,000 computers in Vietnam this week has been identified a 21-year-old student in Hanoi, officials said Wednesday.

Police are still deciding whether to arrest the youth, who on Tuesday wrote to newspapers and police apologizing for what he described as a 'study and research exercise trial.'

If charged with internet sabotage, the youth - whom authorities would not identify by name - could face up to seven years in prison and fines of up to 100 million Vietnamese dong (about 6,300 dollars).

'This is the first time we've had to investigate a Vietnamese-created virus,' said Tran Van Hoa, director of the High-Tech Crime Department of Vietnam's public security ministry. 'If our investigation finds the student is guilty, then he will have to face criminal charges - or at least be fined.'

More than 20,000 computers were infected in one day by the Pretty Girl virus, which surfaced Monday using Yahoo Messenger to infect computers - a first for a Vietnamese-made virus.

Instant-messenger users received a link - ostensibly from one of their own contacts - labeled 'gai xinh' (pretty girl). If a user clicked on the link, the virus was activated and sent more an instant messages to all the infected computer's Yahoo contacts.

Nguyen Tu Quang, director of leading anti-virus software company Bach Khoa Internetwork Security Centre, said the sophistication of the virus was impressive, reflecting the growing skill of Vietnamese hackers.

'This is the dark side of IT development,' Quang said Tuesday.

However, the material damage is expected to be little because Pretty Girl was designed only to propagate itself, not to damage host computers, Hoa said. By Tuesday, Bach Khoa had developed a cleaning system on its website for infected computers

The virus also posed little wider threat to the worldwide internet network because its messages were only written in Vietnamese.

Vietnam's infant information-technology industry is growing at an estimated 30 per cent per year, exporting 70 million dollars in software last year, according to government statistics.

Internet use has become more common in Vietnam in the past five years, with the number of internet users jumping from just 1 million in 2001 to nearly 12 million this year.

Source : MonstersAndCritics
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