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Beware the Xmas e-bug bag

india Updated: Dec 23, 2006 02:24 IST

DO NOT open that Christmas card in the mailbox without ensuring you know the sender, or leave your PC on when you are away vacationing. The Yuletide spirit may be in the air, but so are viruses.

And that is how it has been for a couple of years. In 2004, the Zafi.D worm spread across the Net disguised as a Christmas card; in 2005, a Trojan called MerryX.A was embedded in Christmas greetings.

Kartik Shahani, director, sales, India, McAfeeOne, says one reason for the spurt in viruses is that hackers have plenty of time to unleash malicious viruses during the Christmas holidays.

Anti-virus firms say being away from your computer for days together - say, on Christmas vacation - could also expose your PC to threats. Unless the automatic virus pattern update has been turned on, new network worms, like Sasser, can infect an un-patched computer even when the user is not using it.

All of which keeps anti-virus companies busy. Prabhat K. Singh, head, India security response operations, Symantec, based in Pune, says: "We do signature releases if an outbreak is witnessed within hours of diagnosing it."

Securesynergy CEO Anil Menon says: "To keep viruses at bay, we encourage customers to keep their anti-virus tools updated and deploy firewalls on PCs."