Microsoft Windows virus spreads rapidly; Apple Macintosh unaffected

“A Windows virus that warns users about illegal net use is spreading online. The bug-bearing message claims to come from either the FBI, CIA or German BKA police agency. It warns users they have been detected visiting illegal sites,” BBC News reports.

“Those opening a questionnaire attached to the message will be infected by a variant of the well-known Sober virus. Anti-virus firms have caught millions of copies of the malicious program, suggesting a lot of people have fallen for the fake warning,” BBC News. “The Windows virus started circulating on 22 November and mail filtering firm MessageLabs said it caught almost three million copies of the Sober variant in the first 24 hours of the outbreak. By the end of Wednesday Postini said it had netted more than seven million copies of the bug.”

BBC News, “The virus also comes in varieties that purport to hold a video of Paris Hilton, fake password change notices and e-mail error messages. It can only infect those using Windows PCs. F-Secure said the outbreak was the ‘biggest of the year’ and Symantec said the virus was spreading very fast in the wild. Statistics gathered by Trend Micro suggest that most victims were in North America. The spread of the virus slowed on Wednesday but anti-virus firms urged users to update their protection and not to click on attachments to unsolicited e-mail messages. The first Sober virus was found in October 2005 and there have been 25 variants released since then. This latest variant checks to see if a machine has been infected by earlier versions and tries to shut them down so it can do its work.”

Full article here.

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16 Comments

  1. The BBC seem to be a bit more accurate when reporting on virus outbreaks. I was sick of them not being specific about just what computers are affected by viruses. Their response was pathetic: we have to cover these stories because 95% of people using their site are on Windows. So I called the editor and said a) your response didn’t answer my query, and b) if 95% of your readers are on PC’s you are doing the 5% who aren’t a disservice by not making it plain that these are Windows viruses.

    Now it appears they repeatedly state that these are ‘Windows Viruses’ and they can only affect Microsoft Windows.

  2. Yep – I was just notified by my automated ISP account manager that three of these things have been detected and removed from my email accounts on the server side.

    Here’s a question: If I’m running Windows under OS X, and I retrieve my mail, is my computer infected?

  3. Wouldn’t it be easier to just call them Microsoft Virus PCs? Any day now I expect Gates to bust out laughing during a press conference squealing, “Oh man are you people stupid! Now, please excuse me while the family and I go for a money pit swim.”

    Where do you want to get infected today?

  4. Mr. Peabody: (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;828574)

    When you run a virtual machine in Virtual PC for Mac, the operating system that is installed on the virtual machine may be vulnerable to attacks by Windows-based viruses if the virtual machine is configured to connect to the Internet directly through Virtual Switch networking. In Virtual Switch networking mode, the Windows operating system directly connects to the Internet. As a result, it may be vulnerable to attacks from Windows-based viruses and other malicious programs.

    If the Windows operating system is connecting to the Internet by using Shared Networking, it is in fact connecting through the Macintosh operating system and the Macintosh networking connections. This type of connection can help protect your operating system from network-based virus attacks.

    However, your computer may still be vulnerable to virus attacks through e-mail messages. Microsoft recommends that you use an antivirus program to scan all your incoming e-mail messages.

  5. Mr. Peabody,

    If you use an email program in windows (like Outlook Express) than the Windows installed under virtual PC can become infected.

    I don’t know if your windows install can become infected if you are opening email with a Mac email program.

  6. Instead of trying to screw up digital music with ‘universal and non-proprietary’ digiplayer connectors, why don’t you fix your stinking OS? I wonder how long it will be before x-Box 360 users will have to install Anti-Virus software for their new consoles.

  7. Opening an e-mail that contains a Windows specific virus attachment while using Mail on a Mac that is running VPC (or has VPC installed but not actually running) may well infect the VPC environment.

    If I click on an attached file (.xls or .doc) it automatically launches in Excel or Word as appropriate. If your system maps these files by suffix to the VPC environment, I would expect them to launch VPC and do the nasty that they are designed to do.

    Lada is to BMW as Windows is to Mac OS X

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