IRC administrators may out-hack Fizzer virus

Monday, 19 May 2003, 11:31 AM EST

Administrators of Internet relay chat networks believe they might be able to eradicate the Fizzer virus, but the methods may run them afoul of cybercrime laws, according to a legal expert.

Several postings on an IRC-Security list have debated the merits of trying to shut the computer virus down, and one operator, QuakeNet security team member Daniel Ferguson, warned that manipulating the worm could be illegal. Despite that, he believes that several IRC operators are likley to attempt to shut down the computer viruses running on PCs connected to their networks.

"You can't really blame them," Ferguson said. "When there is nothing else (they) can do to solve a problem like this, then they are left with little choice. The worms (and) trojans not only use their bandwidth, costing them money, but are a danger to the general IRC and Internet infrastructure."

Since Monday, Fizzer has been causing problems for IRC networks. The virus, which spreads mostly through email but also through file-sharing service Kazaa, connects to a random chat network and awaits commands. The virus activity caused headaches for the operators of several smaller IRC networks, which typically haven't had to deal with such so-called IRC bots.

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