The FBI's controversial Magic Lantern Trojan horse has been mimicked by the virus writing underground, but in a deadlier form.
Amid rumours of the FBI's cloak and dagger spy tool, it was discovered that a 17 year-old Argentinean virus writer, known only as 'Agentlinux', has created a malicious virus that masquerades as Magic Lantern.
Rather than acting as a Trojan keylogger, as the real Magic Lantern is supposed to do, 'Malantern', as it has been called to avoid confusion, simply deletes all files in the Windows system drivers directory and the 'Temp' directory.
Although it is not thought that the virus is spreading, one expert believes that this could be the start of a Magic Lantern copycat trend.
"It isn't important that the program isn't spreading. What is necessary to realise is that, with the appearance of the official 'Lantern' virus, writers won't wait long to release numerous clones," said Eugene Kaspersky, head of research at Kaspersky Labs.
Something else that has bothered the experts is the fact that the 'real' Magic Lantern could easily end up in the wrong hands and be used by the people it's supposed to catch.
"In addition, the possibility that the original Trojan version could end up in the hands of hackers cannot be excluded. In this case, hackers could use Magic Lantern as a means to their own ends," said Kaspersky.
This threat is heightened by the fact that some antivirus vendors have already said that they would exclude the FBI Trojan from any virus scans in a bid to support the authorities.
However, vnunet.com would like to remind readers that there is so far no evidence to indicate that a real Magic Lantern exists.
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