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Friday Warning

by msecadm4921

Anti computer virus firm Sophos reports the top ten viruses and hoaxes causing problems for businesses around the world in January 2006.

According to the firm, 2,312 new pieces of malware have been recorded in January – an increase of more than a third on December. Following its domination of the chart in December 2005, Sober-Z, while still the worst offender this month, stopped spreading after January 6. The fall of Sober-Z early in the month has led to a shake-up in the rest of the chart, including the entry of the new Kama Sutra worm (Nyxem-D) and the re-entry of three previously prolific worms.

The Sober-Z worm, which sent itself as an email attachment and attempted to turn off security software on the user’s computer, is no longer a concern to users, but the fact that it stopped spreading in the first week of January and still accounts for almost 45pc of malware reported to Sophos this month demonstrates the potency of the attack.

Nyxem-D, the Kama Sutra worm, first seen on 18 January, propelled itself into the chart this month at number four. The email worm uses a variety of pornographic disguises in an attempt to spread and disable security software. Nyxem-D is also programmed to overwrite files on Friday, February 3.

What they say

"In many ways the Kama Sutra worm is a throwback to the days when sexy subject lines and attachment names were often used to tempt users to open the infected file," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "The bad news for those who have been infected by the worm is that they run the risk of having their data wiped by its destructive payload on 3 February. This obvious sign of infection is a far cry from the stealth tactics employed by modern cyber criminals, bent on financial gain. The rise of the Kama Sutra worm also shows the importance of educating employees on safe computing practices – whether it’s opening joke files, pornography or screensavers, there is always a risk of infection."

Elsewhere in the chart, Netsky-P is hanging on to its top five place, creeping back up to number two this month. Another old-timer, Zafi-B, which was first detected in June 2004, has made a comeback, into the chart at number three.

"Some of these worms have been around for years, and should act as a wake up call for businesses and users who don’t have adequate protection – these worms are simple to control as long as a consolidated solution is in place, and their spread would have been halted if anti-virus updates were applied," added Theriault.

Sophos’s research shows that 1.4pc or one in 70 emails is viral. The company says it now identifies and protects against a total of 118,060 viruses, an increase of 2,312 on last month. A proportion of the new malware written is Trojan horses, which are ideal for financially motivated hackers who want to target specific victims, whilst keeping their code firmly beneath the radar, the firm adds.

"A new chain letter has entered the charts claiming that MSN will be closed down unless the bogus email is forwarded to family, friends and colleagues," said Theriault. "As always, these chain letters are best deleted as they waste bandwidth."

Sophos has made available a free, constantly updated information feed for intranets and websites for users can find out about viruses and hoaxes: www.sophos.com/virusinfo/infofeed/

For more information about safe computing, including anti-hoax policies, please visit:

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