Feb 3, 2006 – Virus destroys data on a million machines…

Okay, so that’s a future headline, and it’s possible / likely that the damage isn’t going to be quite that bad.  But the virus reports back to a home web site, increasing a counter as it does… the counter is well past a million.  [Okay, so that number is likely to have been added to by people trying to make fun]

However, the virus under discussion (as usual, it goes by several names, including Nyxem, Mywife.E, etc) is something that doesn’t come along too often lately – a deliberately destructive virus.

It’s programmed to trigger on Feb 3, 2006, and every third of the month thereafter.  You have only a few days in which to check that you aren’t engaging in the sort of behaviour that gives you this virus, and that you have scanned your systems, and removed it if it has been installed.

Microsoft’s {Malicious Software} {Removal Tool} won’t help you, because although it will remove the virus, it will only be updated on February 14, its regularly scheduled release date.  Not really the best idea in terms of timing.

Microsoft does have tools available to protect you, though – there’s a page at http://www.microsoft.com/security/encyclopedia/details.aspx?Name=Win32/Mywife.E@mm that describes the virus and gives manual detection and removal instructions, as well as pointing you to the beta programmes for Live Safety and OneCare, which are both already able to detect and remove the virus automatically.

Behavioural changes you should make – don’t open attachments.  Really, just don’t.  Random other individuals do not have naked pictures of your wife, and those pictures from the Kama Sutra, well, they aren’t.

Even if an email comes from someone you know, don’t open the attachment.  Really, just don’t.  If you still feel like you absolutely have to, please at least call them and verify that they sent you the attachment, and to ensure that the attachment you see is the attachment they sent.  Ideally, exchange digital certificates and use signed mail – that still won’t totally protect you if a virus can access your friends’ email application, but it’s a damn good start.

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