There is something shady afoot. The online newsletter PoliticsOnline blasted out a virus on the day of the Iowa Caucus. Is this the first Internet attack on the Internet campaigns at a critical moment that could swing an election? Are hackers able to influence politics? The Virus starts today and ends the day after the NH primary!
The distribution of the worm is very small and expires very quickly by design. One of the few sites that it targeted is PoliticsOnline. The virus does little damage but it could clog email systems where lots of people are exposed. I have been on PoliticsOnline for over a year and I have never had them send me a virus. Why today?
Could it have anything to do with the election and the PoliticsOnline focus? PoliticsOnline is a great little online newsletter that provides email news about some of the ways campaigns are using technology. I would assume that the target audience is very political and that a large swath of technically savvy campaign folks subscribe to the PoliticsOnline newsletter. A targeted virus could disrupt the email communications of a campaign and make relying on email for GOTV and coordination difficult. It will be interesting to see who launched the virus and if any campaign took last minute precautions against relying on email.
We will see how this plays out in campaign tonight. However, a full investigation is definitely called for given the timing of the attack.
Symantec says W32.Beagle.A@mm was sent at 4:25 am and had the Bagle is a mass-mailing worm that was found on 18th of January, 2004. The worm sends messages with the subject 'Hi' and random EXE attachment names. It has been programmed to stop spreading on 28th of January. It looks like Norton catches it.