Windows PC users infected with worm face loss of all Microsoft, Adobe files; Mac users unaffected

“A fast-spreading e-mail worm is raising alarms because its sole purpose is to obliterate the everyday working documents widely used by consumers, students and businesses. The Kama Sutra worm — also referred to as Nyxem.E and Grew.A — is unnerving because, unlike other e-mail worms, it appears to be detached from any profit motive. It is designed to destroy all Microsoft Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint documents and Adobe Acrobat and Photoshop files on all hard drives connected to an infected PC,” Byron Acohido and Jon Swartz report for USA Today. “The worm appears in e-mail in-boxes with subject lines such as ‘hot movie,’ ‘A Great Video’ or ‘Crazy illegal Sex!’ enticing the recipient to click on an attachment. One variation makes reference to the ancient Sanskrit book on sexual positions.”

“By clicking on the attachment, the victim launches a program that disables anti-virus protection. The infected PC then begins to send copies of similarly tainted e-mail to every e-mail address on the victim’s hard drive,” Acohido and Swartz report. “But while most e-mail worms also plant a back door to give an intruder control of the PC, or a program to steal log-ons and passwords, this worm’s sole purpose is destruction. It implants a program to erase common work files on the third day of the month, hitting even external data-storage devices connected to the infected PC. IDefense, a VeriSign company, confirmed the deletion program works. More than 500,000 PCs are believed to have been infected since it first appeared on Jan. 16. That’s a modest infection rate, but victims face grim consequences. On Friday — Feb. 3 — any infected machines will lose all Microsoft documents and Adobe files.”

Full article here.
Presumably because they can’t report correctly or they think everyone uses Windows or perhaps because USA Today derives much more advertising revenue from Windows-related companies such as HP, Dell, Microsoft, etc. than from Apple Mac-related entities, Acohido and Swartz neglect to mention how Mac users are affected by this nasty worm. Amazingly the duo can’t muster one single mention between them for their readers that 20+ million Mac OS X users are unaffected. Who said two heads are better than one? All it would’ve taken was a single simple sentence: “Macs are unaffected.” Instead, nothing; although it’s certainly newsworthy and would be news to many of their readers that Mac users are immune to this destructive worm. They don’t even state it’s a Windows problem! This article (and others like it) protects Microsoft and hurts Apple by omitting easily reportable facts.

So, while we understand the situation, let’s all feign ignorance, so that the “reporters” and USA Today will see the confusion they have caused. Perhaps a few email questions will help USA Today to properly report the basics in the future, so that tomorrow’s fish-wrap readers will be able to see for themselves this simple fact:

Macintosh. Because life’s too short.

Here’s a simple email example:

Dear USA Today,

I read your article “E-mail worm bent only on destruction” today with great alarm. I have many Adobe and Microsoft files on my PC and I certainly do not want them all to be deleted on February 3rd. I am very worried about possible infection. Your article didn’t mention which kind of computers are at risk. Can you please tell me if my Apple Macintosh is affected by this destructive worm?

Thank you very much,
Mr. or Mrs. Fish Wrap Reader

Contact information:
Online form for USA Today Letter to the Editor
Byron Acohido:
Jon Swartz:

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Related articles:
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eWeek: Intel transition a ‘security non-issue’ for Apple Mac – January 30, 2006
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ZDNet Australia publishes latest Mac OS X security FUD article – January 26, 2006
‘Highly critical’ flaw in discovered in Symantec AntiVirus for Mac OS X – December 21, 2005
Microsoft Windows virus spreads rapidly; Apple Macintosh unaffected – November 28, 2005
Computer columnist: anti-virus software purely optional for Apple Macs, not so for Windows – November 01, 2005
Microsoft apologists and why Apple’s Mac OS X has zero viruses – October 24, 2005
$500 bounty offered for proof of first Apple Mac OS X virus – September 27, 2005
ZDNet: How many Mac OS X users affected by the last 100 viruses? None, zero, not one, not ever – August 18, 2005

62 Comments

  1. It’s something like this all the time with Windows. Yet corporations, small businesses, snotty know-it-all IT guys and individual users swear by Windows and Microsoft.
    Never in the history of humanity has so many people been stuck with such a shoddy product.
    And they did it willingly, gladly.
    “It’s the standard,” they say. “Everybody uses Windows.” And they keep on buying the stuff. And refuse to get a Mac.
    Unbelievable. Incredible. Stupid.

  2. Dear MDN,

    I’ve noticed a shift if your attitude lately. Thank you for some excellent, mature takes, and suggested ways of responding to threats our for Windows-loving weenies.

  3. Yes, MDN are right of course. We should all react and reply to such reporting. A simple “I have a Mactintosh computer, am I also affected?” should suffice.

    I am still met with complete 100% disbelief if ever I mention that Macs are completely virus free. The word has to get out there.

  4. Dude, I’m gett’n a Dell NOT!

    Apple should do a commercial of a couple of friends standing around a WinPC, it’s all locked up with virus and worms and they have an important email they need to send. Friend number 2 pipes up “lets take it next door to my house and see if I can send it”.

    Of course he’s using a Mac and the email blasts off with no problem.

    Friend #1 is impressed and asks “what anti virus software do you use?”.

    And of course, friend #2 explains “Macs don’t have that problem”.

    While I’m sure some smart guys use Windows (for some reason) the major portion of Windows users do not have a clue and need a simple “feature and benefit” marketing message to get them to consider the Mac.

  5. “….It’s something like this all the time with Windows. Yet corporations, small businesses, snotty know-it-all IT guys and individual users swear by Windows and Microsoft.
    Never in the history of humanity has so many people been stuck with such a shoddy product.
    And they did it willingly, gladly.
    “It’s the standard,” they say. “Everybody uses Windows.” And they keep on buying the stuff. And refuse to get a Mac.
    Unbelievable. Incredible. Stupid…..”

    _____________________
    These same people probably voted for George Bush too!

  6. The article also doesn’t say that because of Microsoft’s security vulnerabilities, the worm could also erase their entire machine if the creator had intended it to, nor will Microsoft Vista be able to stop it.

  7. I sent the following message:

    ‘Hi!

    I just read your article by Byron Acohido about the Kama Sutra email worm attacking computers.
    This sounds very serious. Unfortunately, your writers didn’t mention whethher this worm affects all computers or just Windows PCs. I use a Mac regularly. this article implies that my machine and all my Word files and Photoshop graphics will be deleted on Friday. Is this true?’

    Strangely, the text input field for comments is smaller than a postage stamp. Two lines long and about 20 characters wide at most!

    I guess they really don’t want feedback.

  8. Funny, they didn’t mention anything about Linux, either. Maybe instead of saying something to the effect of “Mac users are not affected”, a better solution would be to simply say “Windows computers” or “Windows PCs” instead of “PCs”.

    I think this is the real shift that needs to take place in the media and in peoples’ minds. Windows computers are PCs, but so are Macs. The term “PC” is way too general (it always has been).

  9. Hey eWorldian:

    It might also be important to mention that Bill Gates called his operating system Windows after a discussion with Steve Jobs about how the Apple Macintosh operating system would work.

  10. I just got the automated reply from USAToday. Strange.

    this paragraph got me:

    ‘Regretfully, although we would like to publish all of the 800 to 1,000
    letters we receive weekly, we are unable to do so. If no one from USA
    TODAY has called you within two weeks, it is probable that your letter
    has not been selected. Don’t give up; try again.’

    USAToday only receives 800-1000 letters a week?!?!? What kind of rag is this?
    If they don’t call within 24 hours, the relevance of any letter will be lost. I wouldn’t want it published more than 48 hours from sending.

    LOL!

    MW: audience as in they’ve lost theirs

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