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Malware authors spread Harry Potter worm

Harry Potter fans investigating a Harry death rumour run the risk of activating a computer worm, Trend Micro has warned.

Harry Potter fans investigating a Harry death rumour run the risk of activating a computer worm, Trend Micro has warned.

Malware authors are exploiting the current anticipation for the next Harry Potter book to trick fans into infecting their machines with a computer worm identified as WORM_HAIRY.A, the security vendor has found.

The worm arrives via removable drives and spreads by dropping copies of itself in all physical, removable and floppy drives. It also drops an AUTORUN.INF file to automatically execute dropped copies when the drives are accessed.

When executed, it drops several files including a Microsoft Word document with the message ‘Harry Potter is dead' as well as displaying a message at each system startup titled ‘read and repent'.

This is not the first time that the popularity of Harry Potter has been taken advantage of by authors of malware. A few weeks ago an email promising free tickets to the premiere of the upcoming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film was circulated which carried a Trojan.

"Once again these malware authors exploit highly-anticipated events in order to spread their malicious codes to the public," Samir Kirouani, senior technical engineer, Trend Micro Middle East and Africa said.

Potter fans around the world are anxiously waiting for the latest book, the last in the legendary series, to hit shelves on July 21.

Author JK Rowling has said that two characters will die in the novel leading to speculation that one may be the protagonist.

Investigate such rumours with caution, Trend Micro advised fans.

"Harry Potter fans could just treat the news of his death as an ugly rumour, but they should definitely exercise caution and practice safe surfing when investigating such claims online," Kirouani added.

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