Virus trackers report bug aimed at Y2K : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

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Friday December 3, 7:53 pm Eastern Time Virus trackers report bug aimed at Y2K (new throughout, previous ISLANDIA, N.Y)

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 3 (Reuters) - The computer world's mischief makers struck this week with the first in what is expected to be a wave of viruses set to go off Jan. 1, 2000, computer experts said on Friday.

A virus was discovered in computer systems of a number of companies, set to go off at New Year's and erase data from users' hard drives, security experts reported.

``This is the first Y2K virus we've seen that has really infected a number of people,'' said Sal Viveros, of Network Associates Inc. (NasdaqNM:NETA - news) , the largest computer security firm in the world.

Anti-virus firm Symantec Corp.(NasdaqNM:SYMC - news) director of research Vincent Weafer said, ``This is the kickoff for the Y2k -- which is going to be like the Super Bowl for virus writers.''

The new virus, called W32/Mypics.worm, is set to disable computers as people try to start them up Jan. 1. The virus writer apparently is hoping to mislead users into thinking they've been hit by the much-publicized Y2K software bug, which is caused by computers' inability to read the ``00'' of year 2000.

The virus is sent by e-mail with no subject line to a target user. Inside the e-mail is a message saying ``Here's some pictures for you!'' Clicking on the picture launches the damaging virus, or worm, a kind of virus that does damage but doesn't continue to propagate itself inside the host computer.

Like the earlier Melissa ``worm,'' the new infection uses the target computer's Microsoft Outlook mailing list to send itself to 50 people via e-mail.

It can be detected ahead of the Jan. 1 ``payload date'' through use of an anti-virus software, or by noting a suspicious switch in the default page of the user's Web browser.

Computer security firm Symantech, the company that first sounded the alarm about the Y2K bug, said it has found five different Y2K viruses in recent days, but none reaching the level of the W32/Mypics.worm, which it classed as a ``medium to high-risk virus.''

Simon Perry, Computer Associate International Inc.'s (NYSE:CA - news) eTrust Business Manager said, ``As the year 2000 quickly approaches, we are starting to see an increased frequency of dangerous viruses.''

The year has already been marked by a wave of destructive infections, including the CIH, or Chernobyl Virus, which wiped out data on thousands of hard disk drives, and Melissa, which was one of the most widespread infections ever, though not as damaging to individual computers.

A concerted effort to sound the alarm by computer protection services has tended to dampen the spread of the viruses, though some see their alarms as self-serving, since most recommend a dose of their medicine, anti-virus software, as the cure.

``Once a virus is in the wild, and it's on everyone's detection lists, it tends to chill a bit. But that doesn't mean it's not still a threat,'' said David Perry, security firm Trend Micro Inc. (NasdaqSC:TIMC - news) pubic information director.

The most basic advice the security experts give is to avoid opening unsolicited e-mails. ``Don't take candy from strangers,'' said Perry, ``and don't open suspicious e-mails on your computer.''

-- Bill P (, December 03, 1999


See also...

Dangerous Y2K Worm Starts Weekend With A Bang (CNN/FN)
December 03, 1999: 4:59 p.m. ET

-- Diane J. Squire (, December 03, 1999.

Well, it was a very strange computer day at work today. Our network administrator sent out a priority notice to all users alerting them to this "mypic" thingy (which, as one who has TB2K with wake up coffee, I already knew about, thank you.) A couple hours later, suddenly our network dies. I call the local manager. He says it's not just us; it's a MAJOR problem with the cental office's router. They have it back up in an hour. (My boss tells me she heard rumors that we were being hacked.)

In the afternoon,I get a routine email from a secretary whose boss is arranging meetings at our branch. She attaches the itinerary. It goes to a couple dozen people who are involved in the visits. Next email I get is from some IS guy with an important sounding title saying this secretary's attachment was carrying a virus. (The attachment was the usual Word file with the little W icon and file title.) If you opened it, he said, run a virus detection program. Our local IS branch manager happened to be in my office replacing a month old computer that crashed yesterday. I read him the email. He whistled under his breath at the man's name. HE is way UP there, he says. (It's him and one other guy running the whole show here now-- one of the county's two hospitals and its two outpatient clinics; the third member of the crew--GI, heavy prepper--went deer hunting for a week.) Ran Norton. Machine was clean. Still, left me feeling very vulnerable. (AND it AGGRAVATES me, too, because now all my ardent DGI pals will be convinced its the cyberterrorism and not Y2K that is bringing us down. Not that it matters. It IS all just a maze of subsets of the amazing situation.)

Try to keep your sense of humor, and be well.

-- Faith Weaver (, December 03, 1999.

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