Worm Burrows into McDonald's MP3 Player Promotion

Winners of 10,000 MP3 players given away in a Japanese fast-food promotion got more than they bargained for, as their prizes contained a worm. If they connect the music players to their computers to fill them with songs then the worm, WORM_QQPASS.ADH, can infect the computers and steal personal data.

McDonald’s Holdings (Japan), the Japanese subsidiary of the U.S. fast-food chain, warned prize winners about the infected players Friday. It offered a Web link to software provided by Trend Micro that can remove the worm from infected computers, and invited winners to return their MP3 players for a free replacement.

The worm spreads from the MP3 player to other removable drives on computers running Microsoft’s Windows operating system, and attempts to disable some antivirus applications. If it finds the QQ Instant Messenger application running, it attempts to steal account log-in information and other chat details, and transmit them by e-mail. The QQ Instant Messenger service is popular in China and South Africa.

McDonald’s ran the MP3 player promotion from Aug. 4 to Aug. 31, and sent the prizes to 10,000 winners in late September, according to its Japanese website.

Trend Micro first received samples of the worm on Sept. 29, according to its website. It rates the risk of damage to a computer infected by the worm as high, but the overall risk as low, given the small number of infections reported so far.

-Peter Sayer, IDG News Service (Paris Bureau)

(Martyn Williams, in Tokyo, contributed to this report.)

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