9-11 Virus is Making the Rounds

There's a new virus in town and it's headed your way. The ominously named 9-11 Virus arrives in e-mail with a subject line of "It's Near 911" or something similar, and includes a file attachment that appears to be called 911.jpg. Resist the temptation to open the attachment!

"The 9-11 virus collects e-mail lists from Microsoft Outlook in order to spread more rapidly, using the provocative headline about 9-11 to get the unsuspecting user to open the e-mail," said Eric Kwon, an international expert in antivirus detection and elimination. Once unleashed, the virus uses Microsoft Outlook to repeatedly e-mail itself to addresses in the user's address book, with the potential for overloading mail servers and disrupting business.

Symantec Corp. has identified the virus as W32.Neroma@mm, and has also identified a related virus, W32.Neroma.B@mm, that comes with a subject line of "Time to 911" and an attachment that appears to be called 119.gif. If you click on the attachment in either of these viruses, your computer's System.ini file is modified and the virus is launched when you restart your computer. The virus may also be responsible for deleting certain files on your computer.

The virus takes advantage of a security flaw in Microsoft Outlook, one for which Microsoft indicates was included in a patch weeks ago. Microsoft is investigating the vulnerability.

Computer systems that are affected by this virus include Windows 2000, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP. The virus does not affect Linux, Macintosh, OS/2, and UNIX systems.

Experts predict a flurry of 9/11-related virus attacks this week, taking advantage of heightened awareness and memory of the terrorist attacks of two years ago.

Although it is currently categorized as a "Low" threat, Mr. Kwon compares the potential penetration of this 9-11 virus to that of the Sobig and Klez worms that are still plaguing computers, long after their launches.

As always, the best way to prevent and protect yourself against virus attacks is to run up-to-date virus protection software on your computer.

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