'Kama Sutra' computer virus set to strike Friday
CTV.ca News Staff
Experts are warning that a seductively-named but maliciously-behaving computer worm -- dubbed "Kama Sutra" -- is set to wreak havoc Friday on systems worldwide.
Computer security companies report that the Kama Sutra worm -- named after the famous Sanskrit treatise on love and sexual positions -- has been spreading through cyberspace since Jan. 16, packaged in emails with subject headings like "give me a kiss" and "crazy illegal sex."
When users click on an attachment sent with the emails, their computers become infected with malicious software designed to replicate itself. The worm burrows itself deep within any infected computer running Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 98 and Windows ME operating systems.
On Friday, Feb. 3 and the third of every month thereafter, the worm is programmed to go to work -- overwriting or corrupting Microsoft Windows Office documents, Word documents, Excel spread sheets, and PDF (portable document format) files.
"This one can damage your office files, your Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and your Powerpoint presentation," Tino Klironomos, a computer retailer, said. "(The files will be) all gone, history."
The computer security company LURHQ reports that there may be hundreds of thousands of machines already infected with the worm, which also goes by the monikers "BlackWorm," "CME-24," "Blackmal," "Mywife.E" and "Nyxem."
But security companies assure that it's not too late to protect your system from such a fate.
Alain Sergile, a security expert at Internet Security Systems (ISS) in Atlanta, said computer users should arm themselves with anti-virus software "which basically protects them from worms, self-propagating worms."
"There are some free applications out there as well that allow you to scan your computer for spyware," he added.
People can also protect themselves by ensuring they have the most up-to-date anti-virus and firewall protection.
Besides being careful about opening email messages and attachments, experts say users would be wise to back up their most valuable computer files on an external device such as a CD, zip drive or DVD.
Don't open any messages with the subject headers "crazy, illegal sex", "give me a kiss" and "hot movie."
The worm will not affect machines running on different operating systems such as Mac OS.