New ‘Injustice’ virus spreads political message

A new e-mail borne virus designed to spread a pro-Palestinian message is popping up in some North American mail systems, according to alerts from the major virus vendors.

Injustice/VBS spreads like other well-known e-mail viruses, such as IloveYou and Melissa, by sending itself to the first 50 users listed in a Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express address book. It usually comes in an e-mail with a subject line of “RE:Injustice” and an attachment called “injustice.TXT.vbs”. The attachment must be opened to activate the virus.

Unlike some of its predecessors, Injustice (also known as VBS/Staple-A) is not designed to damage the infected system. Rather, it seems to be a new form of “hactivism”, using malicious computer activity to spread a political or personal belief. After sending itself to 50 users in the infected machine’s address book, the worm also sends copies of itself to 25 specific addresses within the Israeli government domain

The virus causes a message to pop up on the screen of the infected computer: “Do not worry. This is a harmless virus. It will not do anything to your system. The intension (sic) is to help Palestinian people live in PEASE (sic) in their own land.” In addition, it opens six Internet Explorer windows that point to pro-Palestinian Web sites.

“This is the first time we at CA have seen this type of virus used to spread a political message,” says Ian Hameroff, business manager of Computer Associates International Inc.’s security solutions division in Islandia, New York. “Usually, hactivism takes the form of Web site defacement.”

Fortunately, Injustice is not as widespread as ILoveYou, Melissa and the more recent NakedWife virus because it only sends to about 50 addresses, not every address listed in the address book. Corporations that have learned to restrict .vbs attachments from entering or exiting their corporate e-mail systems will be unaffected by Injustice, Hamerhoff adds.