Computer Virus Has Big Impact

NEW YORK

The proliferation of an E-mail virus is being called by computer virus experts the worst they’ve ever seen, surpassing the “sobig” virus of a year ago. “Mydoom” is also being noted for the unique way it spreads, appearing as a text file within an E-mail, rather than as an attachment.

Recipients receive the virus through messages with subject lines like “hello” and “Mail Transaction Failed.” Recipients who click on the text file release Mydoom into their computers, where it installs a backdoor that allows hackers access to the hard drive. In addition, the worm trawls the infected computer’s files searching for E-mail addresses to resend itself to.

On Jan. 28, computer security agencies reported that a stronger version of the virus, called “Mydoom.b,” had begun infecting computers and seemed directed at overloading Microsoft’s Web site.

In an announcement planned before Mydoom began infecting computers, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Wednesday it is offering free “cyber alerts” to Americans on major computer virus attacks as they are first detected. Those who sign up for the National Cyber Alert System at www.us-cert.gov will receive the alerts by E-mail as they occur.

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