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VENOMOUS NEW COMPUTER VIRUS DISCOVERED

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A new breed of computer virus that outsmarts anti-virus software has cropped up nationwide and as far away as London's financial district since its discovery in Ann Arbor, experts said Tuesday.

The type of virus known as "Junkie" and its relative, "Smeg," is part of a technological breakthrough by underground hackers who create viruses for the thrill of infecting computers and destroying data.Junkie was discovered last month after an Ann Arbor man bought a new computer for his son.

The virus shut down the computer and went undetected until local computer consultant Jim Shaeffer found it by using a special program.

Shaeffer reported the virus to Frank Horowitz, a specialist in anti-virus software in Brier, Wash.

"This is the first time we've seen this," Horowitz told United Press International. "And there are going to be many others like this."

After computer users were electronically told about the discovery, Horowitz said, the Smeg virus was found in computers used by London financial services firms.

It's unclear how many computers have been infected by the new viruses, which Horowitz said are far more dangerous than the well-publicized "Michelangelo" virus, which was designed to shut down computers on Michelangelo's birthday several years ago.

Horowitz said he's received reports from across the country about the new virus. But he said it's impossible to tell how far it's spread.

By breaking Junkie's code, Horowitz said, he could tell the virus was created in 1994. The code also contained the virus name, a standard procedure for hackers who want to know when their creation gets publicity.