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Bogus piracy virus hits net

Malware is exploiting confusion about digital anti-piracy rules in an attempt to extort money from Internet users, it has emerged.

A new Trojan, which F-Secure is calling DotTorrent, pretends to be from a law firm and demands $400 for a “pre-trial settlement”, alleging copyright infringement by the user.

The malware appears to be designed for UK users, and it's probably no coincidence that it has emerged less than a week after the passage of the Digital Economy Bill, which gives copyright holders new powers over peer-to-peer downloaders.

The Trojan warns victims that “Antipiracy foundation has detected copyright issues” and advises them “probably you've been using file-sharing clients.” It includes bogus IP address information.

It claims to come from the non-existent 'ICPP Foundation', and links to a web site containing content lifted straight from an apparently genuine UK law firm, ACS:Law.

ACS:Law was identified by the Guardian today as one of three law firms found regularly sending copyright infringement notices, along with demands for hundreds of pounds, to UK households over the last few years.

With even the politicians who passed the Bill unsure about what it does (Digital Britain czar Stephen Timms apparently thinks an “IP address” is an “Intellectual Property address”) it's hardly surprising that residential net users are confused about their legal rights and are ripe for exploitation.