Antivirus experts have issued a warning over the discovery of an online virus generator.
Taking the danger of idiot-friendly kits responsible for the likes of the Anna Kournikova virus one step further, vandals can now create a new virus in seconds without even downloading software.
The Instant Macro Virus Maker v1.2 is a website capable of generating Microsoft Word macro viruses. All the user has to do is enter a name for the virus, some text to display as the payload, and a day of the month to activate.
The web form then uses a script to generate a simple virus which can be copied and pasted into a Word document of the same name as the virus, and attached to an email for distribution.
"This, as far as I know, is the first (and only) on-line virus creation tool," said the website's author, MI_pirat.
"No download, no wasted time, no programming skill needed. Choose from the options (few, I know, but it's the first edition) and then copy/paste the generated code into a Word (97...2000 etc.) module named after the virus. Enjoy!" reads the blurb.
Although the code is relatively harmless - all it does is display your message on the set day of the month - it's still a fully functioning macro virus.
"That's the dark side of the internet," said security specialist Costin Ionescu of antivirus firm BitDefender.
"Because of such people who don't realise the importance of this matter, new dangers could arise for all the people using the internet, either for work or for fun.
"As the author says, it's just the beginning: if today that means new macro viruses, tomorrow - new dangerous worms could endanger every system connected to the net," he said.
The site is hosted by a free service provider, Freeservers.com, and also holds code and tutorials for other more destructive viruses.
A bit of research reveals that this isn't the first or only online virus generator in existence. A Linux-based virus generator, VGOL, appeared online in 1998 and a virus writer named Bumblebee released one more recently. However, both of these are extremely difficult to track down now.
The online generator makes the task of creating malicious code even easier. Last year saw a deluge of mix and match viruses, all created by the easily downloadable Visual Basic Script Virus Generator, hit the internet.
The most infamous of these was the Anna Kournikova virus, which was put together in 30 seconds with about four clicks of the mouse.
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