Pioneer sent 10,000 customers virus e-mail messages

Japan's Pioneer Corp. inadvertently sent virus-infected e-mail messages to more than 10,000 customers last month and infected the computers of at least 19 of them, the company reported Tuesday.

The virus attached to the e-mail, named Troj_Hybiris, is a semi-polymorphic worm that spreads via e-mail and is not effective unless the attached file is opened, according to antivirus software vendor Trend Micro Inc. However, once the file is opened, it looks for an Internet connection. After it detects a connection, it monitors all e-mail sent and received. It sends an additional e-mail message with a copy of the worm each time e-mail is sent, the anti-virus company said.

The incident occurred on March 2 at 4 p.m. when Pioneer started distributing information on its events and new products to 10,758 users registered to a company e-mail service, said Akira Munetoh, a spokesman for Pioneer. Several users immediately returned the e-mail to the company. By 5 p.m. the company had realized that it sent the virus to all subscribers.

The following morning, and again on March 12, the leading Japanese consumer audiovisual electronics company sent out a virus alert and apology, with an attached fix for the virus. As of April 10, 19 users had reported damage, said Munetoh.

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