Windows bug starts virus war

A war has broken out between hackers behind viruses that exploit a recently discovered loophole in Windows 2000. The viruses written by the competing hacker groups are fighting it out for supremacy on infected machines.

Some of the variants seek out and delete rival viruses they find on machines they manage to penetrate. The slew of malicious programs exploiting the loophole caused trouble for many organizations early this week as the bugs began infecting computers, reports BBC News.

On Wednesday, four new variants of the worm had been detected by F-Secure Corp. in Finland, bringing the total to 11, said Mikko Hypponen, the company's manager of antivirus research. He said the variations apparently had been programmed to compete with each other - one automated "bot" pushing the worm will remove another from an infected computer.

"We seem to have a botwar on our hands," Hypponen said. "There appears to be three different virus-writing gangs turning out new worms at an alarming rate - as if they would be competing who would build the biggest network of infected machines."

The latest worm targets a vulnerability that was publicly disclosed Aug. 9 by Microsoft, which also released a free fix. The problem involves the "Plug and Play" service that lets users easily install hardware on their PCs, informs Hartford Courant.

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