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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Windows virus threatens 170-year-old Toldeo newspaper’s perfect record, Apple Macs save the day – January 27, 2006
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. I just read the article “Email Worm Bent on Destruction”, and am wondering if the Feb. 3rd worm affects Apple computers? I am a new Mac user and am not sure if this affects me, and your article doesn’t say what kind of computers are affected. Can you tell me if I can get this worm on my new iMac?

  2. Ah rubbish. These journos are simply playing the Doomsday card, just like Y2K, Ebola, Solar flares, etc, etc, etc….

    I wonder where all these stories about everyone’s data in danger are coming from this time.

    Not Symantec again, surely?

    Take with pinch of salt.

  3. I have a close friend who works at the USAToday editorial department and she told me that the authors actually devoted most of their story to the fact that Mac users will not be affected, how the kind Mac community is offering poor Windows users to store their files until the danger is over, blah, blah, blah.

    But the paper was hit with the worm prematurely and it started deleting all Mac related paragraphs first.

    –Franz K

  4. Yes, we might gloat a bit, but Apple should NOT advertise the fact that we Mac OS X users work peacefully in a virus/spyware/malware environment.

    The last thing we need is that kind of high-profile challenge thrown out to the dorks who write viruses. Let them stick to messing up Windows, more than it already is, of course.

  5. Cpt. Obvious wrote:

    “An article about a virus that affects PCs didn’t say Apple or Mac anywhere!?

    OMG! DEATH TO THE AUTHORZ!!!!!!”

    Time to go to school.

    PC=Personal Computer

    A Macintosh is a personal computer.

    This would be like writing an article stating that your car is susceptible to complete brake failure and failing to mention that BMW’s are not affected because BMW makes “driving machines” and not cars.

    It is incredible to me that this is not even labeled a “Windows” virus. As an obnoxiously smug Mac user who is out of touch with the functioning of these things, I would even hazard to guess that not all e-mail applications under Windoze are affected by this. The headling calling this an e-mail virus would also be misleading then.

    If I had half of my brain removed, I could become a reporter and still offer the reader a list of operating systems and email applications that are affected.

    If I had 3/4 removed, I could become a Windoze user or call myself Cpt. Oblivious.

  6. I think everyone is missing the positive in this.

    Friday, everyone that loses all their files from this evil, yet enchanting in a way, is going to be asking everyone that didn’t lose their files… Did you get hit by the KS.virus? It didn’t affect you? How?

    Because, I use a Mac, of course!

    MM

    P.S. What a precious [mw] moment [/mw] this will be.

  7. …but there are no viruses for Linux or Mac OS X. It kind of goes without saying that computer viruses only work on Windows computers, and only if you use IE and/or Outlook.

    I think that, even better than to mention that operating systems a,b,c are unaffected would be to mention that Thunderbird users are unaffected, and that Outlook users who have set their security to a reasonable level are unaffected.

  8. I did what I always do when I read an article like that. I corrected it. When I attempted to send it back to USA TODAY via their tiny comments box, I got a IIS server error telling me that “potentially dangerous input was detected in the comments box” and it didn’t allow me to send it.

  9. One of these days, not this year or next year but one of these days 4 or 5 Mac users will be infected by a virus and every Windows user on the planet will howl with glee.

    Suddenly their platform choice will be vindicated.

    Poor bastards.

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