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SoBig Worm Will be Worse Soon, Are You Ready?

Though they sound like science fiction, worms spring from the minds of virus writers who could be sitting at any computer in the world. Most spread because we do careless things like open e-mail attachments from strangers, but some have evolved to spread through computer networks on their own--like plague bacilli that have become airborne.

In case you have been under a rock lately the SoBig e-mail worm has caused:

  • Billions of dollars of damage
  • Three-fourths of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps computers to surrender
  • In a single day, 1 in every 17 mails sent worldwide came from Sobig

Experts were shocked and awed by the worm's unprecedented clip. This is the undisputed heavyweight champion of viruses. The rise of Sobig illustrates how easily a determined fiend--even a terrorist--could sow mayhem. Picture a future Sobig using millions of infected machines to hack into the servers of a major bank.

Like any criminal hacker, Sobig's author has been patiently planning these releases: building a network of compromised PCs, relying on stolen identities, and going to great lengths to hide his (or her) true intention. The next version of SoBig may make the last one look like a piece of cake.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Update--yesterday's antivirus programs can't repel today's sneakier codes. If you use Windows XP, turn on automatic updating
  • Don't open e-mail from strangers. Even if you recognize a return address, check with the sender before downloading unexpected attachments
  • Get a firewall. These programs monitor incoming and outgoing connections for suspicious applications. You can read my recent review of software firewalls for more information.

Anchor Desk September 2, 2003

New York Times Sepetember 2, 2003

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