Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Calling Dr. Bombay! Calling Dr. Bombay!

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Calling Dr. Bombay! Calling Dr. Bombay!

Article excerpt

DEAR DR. BOMBAY: I have taken about 400 pictures with my digital camera, and I keep them on my hard drive. The images are 900- kilobyte bitmaps.

The other day, I was shocked and dismayed to find that every photo was unusable! Every bitmap has the same date and time, along with a file size of 51 KB. I strongly suspect a virus of some sort, but my Norton AntiVirus software reports none.

-- Photo Finished

DEAR FINISHED: Unless you've got somebody goofing with your head, you definitely have a virus, no matter what your antivirus software says. There's absolutely nothing you can do now about all your photos, so I'm going to take this opportunity to make you feel a little worse by self-righteously wagging a finger or two at you and anybody else who doesn't take every precaution available.

You probably caught yourself a big dose of VBS.


Among other devilishness, it replaces certain file types -- including bitmaps -- with copies of itself.

So why didn't your virus-checker find or intercept it?

Because the guys who make antivirus programs can't read minds, that's why. A virus actually has to be created and spread before they can build a defense against it. LoveLetter is insidious but incredibly easy to replicate.

Any pinhead with a passing knowledge of scripting languages can do it. There are 29 known variants -- probably more by the time you read this -- so it's entirely possible you caught a new strain that nobody was expecting to show up.

That's why it's vitally important that you keep your virus definitions up to date.

A monthly update just doesn't cut it anymore.

I've started checking for new definitions every day, just in case some doofus hacker-wannabe high on Jolt Cola thinks he can slip one past me. Some antivirus programs can do the check themselves, contacting home base whenever you're connected to the Internet. …

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