New ‘Swen worm’ masquerades as Windows Security Update; Macintosh unaffected

“A new worm that tries to take advantage of Windows users anxious to get their hands on security updates began making the rounds on Thursday, several antivirus firms confirmed,” Gregg Keizer reports for TechWeb News. “The worm, which goes by a variety of names, including Swen, W32/Swen@MM, Gibe, and W32/Gibe-F, can pose as an E-mail from Microsoft bearing a bogus security update as a file attachment.”

“It spreads in several ways, including the traditional mass-mailing method of stealing addresses from Outlook address books on compromised machines, but also propagates over Internet Relay Chat and peer-to-peer networks such as Kazaa. Successful infections attempt to steal account information, including usernames and passwords,” Keizer reports. “The worm also exploits a 2-year-old vulnerability in Windows–for which a fix is available from Microsoft–that allows it to auto-execute on unpatched PCs. In those situations, the receiving system is infected even if its user doesn’t open the attached file.” Full article here.

Macintosh computers are unaffected. Windows-only users interested in adding a Mac OS X machine to their computing arsenal can get more information here. Apple Retail Store locations can be found here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
New York Times: Mac OS X ‘much more secure than Windows XP’ – September 18, 2003
Wall Street Journal’s Mossberg on making the switch from Windows to Mac – September 18, 2003
ZDNet’s Coursey: Microsoft should start new OS from scratch to be more like Mac OS X – July 29, 2003
ZDNet asks: will Windows ever be as stable as the Mac? – April 21, 2003


  1. pc clean,

    I want to believe you truly came here in order to see better. So, forgive me in case I sounded too harsh. BUT I hope you will come to realize one important message.
    Windows lacks badly of any concept of security. It is a system that cries to be infected. As a matter of fact a PC online simply SHOUTS – in the electronic sense – I AM HERE, I AM HERE, I CHECK NOTHING, I SWALLOW EVERYTHING.

    A regular home PC user, that is one with no particular expertise or background in IT, is like a tourist going to one of those sex-vacation in a HIV infected countries, having fun-sex daily in an unprotected way and then saying naively: “WHAT? me infected, but.. but.. everyone I know makes sex”. Sorry pal, ybut ou are a danger for the internet society.

    Even in our lab, with all the firewalls, spam filters and the rest we had 86 PC infected by MSBlaster AND I received these very last day 12 emails from the new Windows worm – traced back to PCs of colleagues – . Now imagine, if professionals – we usually hold Ph.D. here – who could and should in principle be skilled enough to avoid infection had their PC infected imagine the poor bastard John Doe out there.
    See? IT IS a major problem.

    An IT professional here said: “I do not get infected. I do not use Micros**t products but their OS, I do not open attachments, I run a personal firewall on top of the lab’s one, I do not accepts files from anyone even people I know and trust if not after double-checking with them and I never had got a virus”. Sorry, but I pity him and other Windows users who SURELY do not behave like him. Is this the way you use your PC, is this the way you like your computing experience.
    IF YES, then bend over pal and let Micros**t drive. You must be linking that.

    If not, do yourself a favor: Apple computers are NOT more expensive than similarly configured PCs today. Have been true in the past, you have the luck of having a Mac friend, hopefully with OS X (if with OS 9 do not bother: see I am being honest). Go to an Apple store, give yourself a chance.


  2. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> great discussion going on on David’s (Pogue) discussion forum.
    PC weenies are either puzzled or trying hopelessly to defend Micros**t.
    There are some valiant answers to that.

  3. Seahawk, thanks for the smug reply I would expect of a Mac user, and btw, I’m no dummy, I have a degree in English and would like to tell you there is no such word as virii.

    Being so scholarly and all, perhaps you’d care to check for yourself, and I, being a kind person, will provide the link.

    “The word you’ve entered isn’t in the dictionary. Click on a spelling suggestion below or try again using the Dictionary search box to the right.

    Suggestions for virii:”

    Perhaps that will humble you a bit, as you come off as a complete, condescending fool. You use a Mac. Why am I suprised. It goes with the territory.

    Learn from this. Don’t go spouting off like you did to someone who asked an innocent question for a friend who is too computer illiterate to find out himself.

    I use a PC, yes, and no, I do not meet the profile of the average user, nor do I bite the patch bait. I hate all Micro$oft stands for. I can hear you thinking, Seahawk. My husband provided the 8 computers for this house as he does a lot of programming and animation when he’s home and not at the office performing his consulting job.


  4. Psst Seahawk. Read your own words.

    Larry: you’re right. Windows presence on the net IS becoming a real nuisance.

    I have a site that gets a lot of traffic. Read the stats for yesterday.

    “Most popular user operating systems used for access:
    Windows NT with 2851 sessions (39.81% of all sessions)
    Unknown with 2480 sessions (34.63% of all sessions)
    Windows 98 with 1380 sessions (19.27% of all sessions)
    Macintosh PPC with 249 sessions (3.48% of all sessions)
    Windows 95 with 99 sessions (1.38% of all sessions)
    Windows 3.1x with 49 sessions (0.68% of all sessions)
    LINUX with 30 sessions (0.42% of all sessions)
    BSD UNIX with 11 sessions (0.15% of all sessions)
    SUN OS with 11 sessions (0.15% of all sessions)
    Macintosh with 2 sessions (0.03% of all sessions)”

    Clearly you’re in the minority, but keep up that aura of superiority as I sense you need it. You probably defend your decision to become a Big Mac w/cheese every single day. Oh, your wife bought it as a gift and you didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Sorry, Seahawk, I read you wrong. :p Yes! An emoticon. It’s too hard to be PC all the time and no, that pun hit me as I was typing.

    This Mac vs. PC stuff amuses me, though, so keep it coming. I’m in the mood to verbally duke it today. My humor took a little break, but you’ll know when she returns. It’s the ‘bitch’ you’re hearing from now, because I get so sick of hearing the same old yammer from Mac users, I get sick of hearing how Linux is superior. But the real reason she appeared is because of the frat-boy replies to the ‘cool’ side.

    This is probably way over your head, so I’ll go away now. Oh yes, I’ll be back.

    One last thing. Seeing Windows 3.1 in the stats had me howling.

  5. pc clean: you might have a degree in English but you should get back to school and refresh your latin.

    ‘virii’ is plural for ‘virus’ and it is the common plural form in Computer Jargon and Hacker/Crackers parlance

  6. pc clean: so you site gives the presence for all the net. Good Lord. How big is you head. You TRULY believe your site statistics gives you the picture of installed base for the various OS. Oh my oh my oh my. And who are *you* calling condescending fool? ROFLMAO

    For your information Mac presence on the net is above 10%. Do you TRULY believe that Linux/BSD Unix counts for less than 1%.
    Lady, get your facts: Even Micros**t web servers run on Linux/Apache.
    So risible!

    So, to follow your logic(?): the majority of the population in the US goes to fast food: what is your point? that it forcibly is the best food you can eat?
    Coackroaches outnumber dogs by many factors: I suppose you gave one as pet to your children?

    BTW, a nuisance is a nuisance because of its very presence – which your point seems to prove. If Windows was the minority, even infected daily as they are they will be well below the threshold to be noticed. Which is MY point.

    Not only I use a Mac, at the lab I also have access to SGI workstations, IBM servers, I use Linux Red Hat and in my group there are 3 XPs as well. When our mail servers and spam filters choke because in ONE day they received 234,000 mail crap from infected PCs out there, sorry my lady, your Windows IS a real nuisance and a danger to the internet society.

    Big Mac? What’s that? I eat at “Chez Panisse” “Tour d’Argent” “Ritz” “Chez Maxime” and alike.

  7. Oh, one more thing: on a Mac a browser (say Safari or OmniWeb) could identify itself as whatever system it likes. This is done to be able to read site whose web developers is head-in-the-sand into Windows IE.

    Do not believe all your Microsoft IE statistics are ALL from Wintel.

  8. pc clean: Not only are the latin plural “virii” valid and well used in computer science, but also in biological sciences such as molecular genomics and _virology_! As a windows user, you better learn and remember “virii” – you will live with viruses in plural on your platform forever (or at least until microsoft does a real clean rewrite of the entire os)…

  9. Psst pc clean, read your own words:
    “I read on another site that a mac user was infected. Explain this, please.

    “Still, even non-Windows users were affected by the worm’s spread, as one TechNewsWorld reader — a Mac user — reported receiving more than 250 Swen e-mails in the last day”

    Since you have a degree in English how comes you don’t know the difference between “infected” and “affected” ?


    “Don’t go spouting off like you did to someone who asked an innocent question for a friend who is too computer illiterate to find out himself.”

    That must sound fake even to your ears. You did NOT sound to be coming here in order to ask an innocent question.

    You sounded like:
    “Take this!! Mac users are infected as well”
    You got replied accordingly.

  11. Thomas Blom: now you are talking difficult. Computer science, biological sciences, molecular genomics, virology.

    She has a degree in English. How could you possibly think she is following you if Latin is already obscure to her?

  12. Sorry, guys, this is just annoying the grit out of me, & I have to butt in–

    There is no such Latin word as ‘virii’. If there were, it would be the plural of a word ‘virius’, which does not exist. The Latin word ‘virus’ means roughly ‘the quality of being a poison’, & has no plural. Since there is no Latin plural, the only sensible thing to do is make an English plural: VIRUSES.

    I’ve yet to encounter a virologist who uses the bastardized form ‘virii’, but I concede that such a person may exist. Virologists aren’t required to study Latin, & the odd one could get away without even a decent command of English.

    Now, Seahawk, if you hadn’t made that little error about the plural of virus, you’d be batting 1.000. ‘PC Clean’ is dead wrong on every other point.


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