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Lovegate Worm Spreads By Replying To All Mail

A worm making the rounds on the Internet not only mass mails itself to addresses it hijacks on infected machines, but spreads by replying to unread e-mail messages in the user's inbox, security experts said Wednesday.

The Lovegate worm, which was first discovered last week and reappeared in repackaged, copycat form Tuesday, uses an auto-responding technique as well as the traditional address book theft to propagate, said Alfred Huger, the vice president of engineering for Symantec's virus watch group.

"The two together are pretty vicious," he said.

"This is really clever," said Huger, who called it another example of how hackers come up with ingenious ways to spread malicious code.

The latest version of the worm, dubbed Lovegate.w by Symantec and Lovegate.ab by rival security firm Network Associates, can sniff for unread messages in MAPI-compliant e-mail programs, such as Outlook and Outlook Express, then send itself as a reply to any inbound message.

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