A recent worm uses various tricks--including a parody of ergonomics programs--to inspire support for the legalization of marijuana. First discovered in the United States in June, the PE_MARI.A worm arrives as an e-mail with the message "check this out" and carries an attached file: SYSTEM32.EXE. If the recipient opens the attachment, the worm sends itself to everyone in the victim's address book.
The MARI worm places a marijuana-leaf icon in the victim's system tray or on the taskbar that, when clicked, pops up a message in support of legalizing cannabis. The worm also looks for the Internet Explorer browser on a victim's computer and resets its home page to my.marijuana.com. Finally, the mischievous program pays homage to ergonomics software, which aims to protect workers' health by periodically reminding them to take breaks from their computers. The worm causes a dialog box to appear on a victim's screen twice a day. "Time to toke up :)," it reads.
Staff writers Rachel Lebihan, David Becker and Edward Moyer contributed to this report.