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'Storm Worm' E-Mail Spreading

Finnish computer experts warned Friday that spammers are taking advantage of people's curiosity over a devastating storm in Europe to spread junk e-mails on the Internet.

A computer virus dubbed "Storm Worm" that is attached to a mail message has infected at least 10,000 computers worldwide, said Mikko Hypponen, the head of research at F-Secure Corp., a leading Finnish antivirus company.

Hypponen said spammers sent hundreds of thousands of files attached to e-mails with the heading "230 dead as storm batters Europe," referring to a storm on Thursday that disrupted travel for tens of thousands, shut down power and killed at least 47 people.

"The timing is particularly clever," Hypponen said. "They are taking advantage of people's curiosity in a natural disaster that has news value."

The spam mail with the attachment was first detected by the company early Friday, Hypponen said. He said users would not notice anything our of normal taking place in their computers but that the virus allows spammers to take control of computer.

The virus uses a program known as "Small.damTROJAN" to penetrate the computer, Hypponen said. It allows spammers to send the same e-mail message further to other contacts.

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