Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kournikova, Snow White Viruses Merely Annoying

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kournikova, Snow White Viruses Merely Annoying

Article excerpt

As if Windows isn't flaky enough when it's working normally, now we have amateur hackers using write-your-own-virus kits to further disrupt our computing.

Hey geeks, get a clue. Our PCs crash just fine without your help.

Now, however, we have to contend with the likes of Anna Kournikova and Snow White. Both the Russian tennis star and the Disney damsel have their names attached to computer viruses creating havoc in workplaces and homes around the world. Dozens of other digital nasties are on the loose as well.

Last week's panic was caused by a virus hidden in an e-mail attachment slugged "AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs." The ".jpg" extension fooled many people into thinking they were opening a photo of Kournikova, since JPEG is a compression standard commonly used for online images. As some of you discovered, double-clicking the attachment launched a program that sent copies of itself to everyone in your Microsoft Outlook address book.

Whoops. Although this particular bug, technically dubbed VBS/SST-A or VBS_Kalamar, doesn't do permanent damage to the computers it infects, it sure is embarrassing -- especially since it comes with your name in the "from" line.

The program is called a "worm," but the real worm is the wannabe Dutch hacker who authorities say used a virus construction software kit downloaded from the Internet -- he wasn't even smart enough to write his own virus. While experts say the virus is crude, it apparently is effective.

Another virus making the rounds promises to tell "the REAL story" of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and carries an attachment ending with ".exe." This virus, called W95.Hybris, doesn't mail itself to everyone in your address book, like the Kournikova bug, but it does add an attachment to every outgoing e-mail you send. Equally embarrassing.

While these two bugs are mainly annoying, there are plenty of more destructive computer viruses out there.

How do you avoid them?

First, get an anti-virus program. They can be had for $40 or less. It's money well-spent. Symantec's Norton AntiVirus 2000 stopped the Kournikova bug cold on my home PC, intercepting it as it arrived and quarantining it so it could do no damage. …

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