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Feared computer worm caused 'minor problems' ! - 2/6/2006 7:33:15 PM   
SiliconFreak


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San Francisco - A malicious software worm timed to attack computers worldwide on Friday appeared to do little damage, anti-virus software makers said.

Referred to by a host of names including "Kama Sutra", "Nyxem-D", "Blackmal-E", "MyWife", and "Blackworm", the virus was reportedly programmed to come to life after clocks signalled the start of Friday, and on the 3rd day of every month.

"There was no massive file deletion overnight in Asia, so there's no chance that the virus will cause serious damage today in Europe," said Damase Tricart, product head at Symantec France.

It was expected to take several days to assess damage done by the virus because it was tailored to destroy files but not computers, said Joe Stewart, senior security researcher at LURHQ, a computer threat management firm.

Files that could be turned to gibberish by the "worm" virus included Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Excel, and zip archives, according to Stewart.

"So far, we don't have a real good picture of what the damage is going to be," Stewart told reporters. "We think India is going to have the biggest problem given the number of infections reported there."

The few damage reports that had "trickled in" to LURHQ on Friday were from India.

A true damage assessment may not come to light, because victims tend to avoid reporting their plights to anti-virus software firms, said David Perry of Tokyo-based computer security firm Trend Micro.

"Nobody wants to be the one who screwed the pooch and didn't get rid of the virus in time," Perry told reporters. "You get calls right up to the trigger date, and then you hear crickets after that."

The virus spread predominately via emails promising provocative or pornographic content. Warnings that it was programmed to activate the third of each month, and particularly on Friday, were heralded internationally.

Hot spots for reported infections in the past two weeks were India, Turkey and Italy, according to Perry.

"All in all, it turns into a no-reporting situation," Perry said of the tendency of computer users not to reveal they didn't heed warnings and purge the virus from their machines.

"We have a hard time telling how much damage was done at the end of the day."

It is possible to recover files destroyed by the virus using a safeguard, said software maker Sophos, which had no report of infection from its 35-million worldwide customers.

"We were by no means saying this was the end of the Internet," Stewart said of anti-virus experts who sounded the alarm.

"If this worm wasn't deleting files, it would have gone under the radar, just like every other worm released every week."

A beneficial side effect from girding for Kama Sutra was that computers worldwide were checked for viruses, experts said.

"Once you encourage everyone to scan, you cause a precipitous drop-off of virus spread," Perry said.

"We get the multiplier effect. The number of total viruses goes down in the world because people scan who haven't scanned in a long time."


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