KLEZ VIRUS ALERT
There has been a recent rash of new viruses as well as some new virus hoaxes going around in the last month or so. Most of the viruses are variations on the W32 Klez virus. This is an Internet E-mail Worm virus which infects your e-mail system and mails fresh copies of the virus to everyone on your current address list.
This virus usually comes in as an attachment with a somewhat cryptic message like:
“LOOK MY NEW GAME, VERY FUN”
It is almost always from a user you will not recognize. Do not open the attachment or you will infect your computer. Such e-mails are generally always best deleted immediately if you don’t recognize the sender or the message in the e-mail sounds somewhat suspicious. Once deleted, the e-mail will generally end up in your Deleted Folder.
In many cases this does not rid you of the virus unless you have instructed your E-mail program to empty your Deleted folder when you exit the E-mail program. This option can be set in Tools / Options / Maintenance in Outlook Express. Different E-mail programs may have this option located elsewhere. Check with your software vendor to determine where the option is set in your program.
The dangerous feature of this particular virus is its ability to damage many common anti-virus programs. It has specific instructions to damage Norton and MacAfee anti-virus programs if it manages to infect your computer. Since these viruses are re-released with new disguises every few weeks, it is imperative that you keep your anti-virus up to date. Internet updates should be scheduled weekly or even daily if possible. Then the viruses will often be intercepted before they can do any serious damage to your computer.
NEW VIRUS HOAXES
Many common Virus Hoaxes going around may appear to come from a user on your address list. They sound quite sincere and tell you that you may have been infected by a virus. The instructions tell you to look for a specific file in Windows and if you find it delete it ! If you follow these instructions you may actually disable your computer.
These often function as chain letters which instruct you to pass on the information to people on your address list. They often make claims with wording similar to the following:
“This virus cannot be detected by either Norton or MacAfee and must be deleted manually using the following instructions:”
The equivalent, outside of the computer world, would be a letter instructing you to open the hood of your car and if you see any black wires, cut them immediately because they might be connected to a bomb.
Needless to say, your car won’t start tomorrow if you follow the instructions.
In most cases, if you follow-up with the user that appears to have sent you the e-mail, they won’t even be aware of the hoax or they may have been an unwilling participant in someone’s little technological bad joke.
As long as the internet remains completely open and relatively unregulated, these sorts of problems will continue to plague computer users. Your best defence is going to be a combination of the following items:
1) A good up to date Anti-Virus program
2) Multi-mode, Multi-generation backups
3) A healthy dose of common sense.