My colleague Catherine Holahan just wrote to tell me about a virus that’s making the rounds on the Web. Check out her guest blog below:
You’re probably well aware of the so-called “storm worm” virus that has raged across the globe since at least January, gathering strength and evolving with each computer it transforms into a zombie machine. In just over a month, the worm has become responsible for more than 8% of all virus infections. Security firms say its latest iteration could spread even more quickly.
I was talking to Dmitri Alperovitch, principal research scientist with Secure Computing (SCUR), about a new version of the virus. He says it’s something of a perfect storm for the Web 2.0 generation. Unlike earlier incarnations, which operated as a typical e-mail Trojan virus infecting computers after users clicked on a link masquerading as a news article, the virus now attaches to infected users’ blog comments, online postings, and even instant messages in the form of a link to a “fun video.”
The latest virus was first observed on web pages Feb. 26, disguised as a link to a clip on mailfreepostcards.com. In 18 hours, it made its way onto four pages worth of Google links. “This is really the first we are seeing of these blended threats that attack all these vectors simultaneously,” says Alperovitch.
Once a computer is infected, hackers can use it to send spam or copies of itself, and launch denial of service attacks. Already, security firms have linked the virus to attacks aimed at shutting down anti-spam sites.
What should you do to protect yourself and ensure you’re not spreading the virus with every comment you post? Alperovitch says users should not click on links directing them to unknown sites and should regularly run virus scans with up-to-date software. For users already infected, he recommends completely reformatting the compromised machine, wiping the hard drive clean and reinstalling the programs.