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Kama Sutra poses risk for home PC

The virus may have hit 80,000 computers in the country.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2006 11:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

If your computer was acting stranger than usual on Friday, you have a reason to worry. So how bad is that? Your computer may be running slow or the file you save may be corrupted. And since it was February 3, there is a strong possibility that your computer may have been infected by the Kama Sutra virus — a cyber worm that is programmed to strike on the third of every month starting February 3.

It's called Nymex and it deletes all MS Office applications from your hard disk. Spotting it can be a little bit knotty. The virus arrives via email with subjects like 'Indian housewife seeking comfort' — stuff that could prompt a click. It can also copy itself and resend to persons on one's mailing list.

The virus with names like Blacmal, My Wife, Kama Sutra and its variants should have hit more than 80,000 computers in the country and a million across the globe on Friday. Control patches are available but for home pc users it's a reason to worry. Almost all home PCs work on pirated software. Global monitoring agencies, say major anti virus companies have all created antidotes since then, but thousands of users who may not have installed an anti-virus software are still vulnerable.

The last episode showed that of the over 500,000 affected computers worldwide, a large number seemed to be based in India, Peru and Turkey — which is why Indian PC owners need to be specially careful to activate and update anti-virus tools before opening e-mails and not open unknown email attachments.

For those who are working on Linux or any other operating system, there is no need to worry. The virus affects only Windows machines.

Friday, however, was business as usual for IT majors and the ITES industry in Gurgaon. Work was rather smooth at IBM Daksh, Convergys, HP's SAS Servizio. Some internet cafes in the area did report the virus and suffered some damages. The Internet Junction -II, an internet cafe near Sector 10A had to get three of its PCs reformatted after some of its not-so-aware customers clicked on the tempting link in their inboxes.

"We had to call a computer engineer for fixing three of our PCs that were to be reformatted completely. Some of the customers got tempted and opened the websites. This resulted in entire PC hang-up and it stopped functioning. Fortunately, we do not store any of our valuable data in the PCs," said Narender Singh, owner of the café.

Similarly another internet café in Palam Vihar's BAyopar Kendra also reported a similar incident. Sunanda, the spokesperson for Convergys told HT that no damage by Kamasutra or any other virus was reported on Friday on any of their systems.

"Besides professionals handling the computer operations, the IT companies hardly allow browsing or e-mailing facility to its operators," said Deepak Kapoor of Call Centre Association of India (CCAI).

Sunil Sachdev of HP's Indian BPO SAS Servizio Limited said, "We had sounded alert well in advance, and despite the fact that the Microsoft software has the facility of cautioning the operators with patches, we had issued strict instructions to our operators not to open any strange and flashy mail with fascinating subject lines."

The Indian Computer Emergence Response Team (CERT) of the Department of Information Technology had sent out an advisory to 800 organisations on January 23 to protect their computer systems against the worm.

Many systems operating for several companies have already taken adequate steps to ward trouble and have been cautioned against an e mail with an JPEG and an attachment.

The US's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had already sent out a warning about the virus that destroys files or infects computers on the third day of each month.

The Blackworm virus, FBI said will be disguised in a mass e-mail sent last month.

The FBI is also investigating the virus' origin.

What and what not to do

— Instal genuine anti-virus programme and update it regularly

— Don’t download from unauthorised websites. Avoid use of cracked or duplicate software. And don’t download games.

With inputs from Sanjeev K Ahuja

First Published: Feb 04, 2006 01:35 IST