New “Prestige” Worm Uses Social Engineering

Panda Software’s Virus Laboratory has detected a new e-mail worm called Prestige (W32/Prestige), which refers to the recent catastrophe involving an oil tanker of the same name off the north coast of Spain.

Prestige uses what has been dubbed ‘social engineering’ to spread, reaching computers in an e-mail message with the subject: “fotos INEDITAS del PRESTIGE en el fondo del Atlantico”, and a blank message body. This message includes an attached file called “”, which contains another file called “Prestig.exe”. This is actually a copy of the worm itself. Similary, in order to give more credibility to the e-mail, the sender of the message appears as: “Fotos_PresTiGe”

If the file carrying the worm is run, a message is displayed in Spanish which asks users if they want to install an application that will allow them to view exclusive images of the Prestige oil tanker on the ocean floor.

If the user clicks on the “Accept” button in this window, an error message will be displayed informing the user that the application could not be installed. However, this is just a ruse that allows Prestige to carry out its actions without the user realizing.

In order to spread, this worm sends itself out to all the contacts in the address book of the Outlook e-mail application and is also capable of spreading through the IRC chat program.

Prestige creates various files in the Windows system directory in the affected computer. It also changes the name of the regedit.exe file to “m_regedit.exe”, replacing the original file with a file that contains a copy of the worm, which activates every time the Windows Registry editor is run.

Finally, Prestige creates an entry in the Windows Registry to ensure that it is run every time the computer is started.

Although this is not a particularly dangerous virus, Panda Software advices users to update their antivirus solutions due to the techniques it uses to spread. The multinational antivirus developer has already made the corresponding update for its antivirus solutions available to users. This update, which detects and removes this malicious code, can be downloaded from More detailed information about Prestige is available in Panda Software’s Virus Encyclopedia.

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