Anti-virus firms: New worm can steal data


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 02 Nov 2003

BY A. ASOHAN

PETALING JAYA: Anti-virus companies have issued alerts over a new computer virus worm that not only spreads itself through a user's e-mail programme but may also steal random data in an infected computer and send it to the creator of the virus. 

The new worm, Mimail.C, is an advanced variation of the original Mimail that first appeared in August, said Sevaraja Velautham, managing director of AVP (SEA) Sdn Bhd, the local distributor of anti-virus solutions from Russia's Kaspersky Labs. 

It affects any computer running Microsoft Corp's operating systems, from Windows 95 right up to the latest Windows version. 

Mimail.C comes with an e-mail promising erotic photographs but when users click on the attachment “photos.jpg.zip,” the worm is executed. 

“Unlike the more insidious recent viruses which can automatically launch themselves, Mimail.C is only activated when you click on the attachment,” said Sevaraja, warning users not to do so. 

When launched, it installs itself and copies addresses from the infected computer's e-mail programme.  

It then randomly sends copies of itself to these addresses, making it appear as if the e-mail came from a friend or co-worker. 

While the worm does not destroy data on the infected computer, it looks for any evidence that the computer uses the E-Gold online payment system and steals confidential account information which it then sends to an anonymous e-mail address and to the virus creator, who has not yet been identified. 

Sevaraja said few Malaysians, if any, use E-Gold but added that the worm could copy other data and transfer them via e-mail. 

Additionally, infected computers might be used to carry out what is known as a “distributed denial-of-service” or DDoS attack on the www.darkprofits.com and www.darkprofits.net websites. 

A DDoS attack overloads a website's computer servers by sending an endless cycle of random data packets.  

Such an attack may cause the website's computers to crash. 

“The good news is that Mimail.C is not as destructive as recent e-mail viruses like MS-Blaster,” said Sevaraja. “However, it can steal confidential information from your computer and this is its main threat.” 

“Once it starts sending out e-mail from your computer, you'll be inadvertently spamming your friends and contacts,” he added. 

“Spamming” refers to sending unsolicited e-mail in bulk, which can slow down networks and which e-mail users are increasingly finding a hassle to deal with. 

The virus was first detected on Friday night and by yesterday morning had infected tens of thousands of computers in Germany and France, according to various reports.  

However, there was little indication that it had hit Malaysia in any great number, Sevaraja said, adding that none of AVP's customers had called to report infections. 

In any case, he urged all users to update their anti-virus software.  

For more information, go to www.avpsea.comor www.kaspersky.com

For other anti-virus solutions with updates against Mimail.C, go to www.trendmicro.com, www.symantec.comor www.nai.com.  

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