Theon infected systems and could allow a machine to be used as an e-mail gateway for sending spam. Since the beginning of March, Bagle has arrived under the with a password included in the e-mail text. Within days, antivirus companies updated their products to look for the password and decrypt the Zip file.
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Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at antivirus company Sophos, said it is ironic that the Bagle author is using an antispam trick against the "good guys," but that it won't present a big problem for antivirus companies.
"He put the password into a graphic instead of plain text because he assumed that antivirus companies would be extracting the password in order to scan inside," Cluley said. "People have disguised their e-mail addresses on Web sites to try and avoid being picked up by spammers, and he has used that trick against the good guys."
Cluley said Sophos updated its systems over the weekend to include detection for the new variant. "We can pick up the password, even if it has been put inside a graphic," he said.
Kevin Hogan, senior manager at Symantec Security Response, said that his company's Norton Antivirus software also will be able to detect the new variants. "This is not going to impact our detection. We don't rely on (text passwords) to detect the worm in its encrypted Zip form. You could call it heuristics if you want, but at the end of the day, we don't need to completely unzip a file to get the information we need."
Researchers also pointed out that the most recent variants not only use Zip files, but also RAR files, which arein that they are compressed archives, with a different extension.
Munir Kotadia of ZDNet UK reported from London.