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Specialists spell out how to avoid Mydoom

Mydoom worm infecting the Net can be warded off with software tools and caution in opening e-mails, specialists said.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2004 18:28 IST

The Mydoom computer worm infecting the Internet at warp speed can be warded off with software tools and caution in opening e-mails, specialists said this week.

Security experts have been racing to contain the worst ever Internet epidemic, which affects Microsoft's Windows operating system, the most widely used in the world.

Personal computer (PC) users themselves can help battle the onslaught by using disinfectant, anti-virus and firewall software and carefully screening incoming e-mail, experts said.

"This virus, which is not due to a failure in Microsoft software, demonstrates once again by the speed of its spread the educational work remaining to be done with the general public to make the Internet more secure,"security director at Microsoft France Bernard Oughanlian told AFP on Thursday.

PC users are not particularly affected by Mydoom, first spotted on Monday, because it does not damage the computer.

But with the worm generating about 100 million e-mails in just its first 36 hours of life, Web traffic has slowed noticeably at times.

Mydoom spreads through e-mail attachments and downloads from the popular Kazaa file-sharing service, which lets Internet surfers share content such as games, movies and music.

Unlike many earlier bugs, Mydoom often camouflages itself on the subject line as an error note or other official-looking identifier, with a text message attached, prompting users to open the attachment to read it, thereby inadvertently launching the virus.

The attachment -- with the extension .bat, .cmd, .exe, .pif, .scr or .zip -- is often presented with an icon indicating a simple text message.

A later variant of the worm, Mydoom.B, can be activated even if the attachment is not opened.

The bug also uses the e-mail addresses stored on infected computers to replicate itself and spread further.

A number of Internet access providers and anti-virus software makers are offering free Web downloads of disinfectant and protection tools, experts said.

"On the Wanadoo.fr portal, you only have to click on the 'help' link and then 'security' to find this patch and then follow the instructions which allow you to clean an infected computer," said Denis Druart, customer service director at Wanadoo, the Internet arm of France Telecom.

To protect a PC from the Mydoom bug, experts agreed on the need to install anti-virus software and a firewall, which controls incoming and exiting traffic.

"There are numerous software products that are free and highly effective if they are kept updated," Benoit Janin, the director general of security firm AQL, said.

Many of these anti-virus and firewall programs can be downloaded from Web sites at no charge.

But PC users should also remember the basic rule of Internet security, said Marc Blanchard, head of the French laboratories of Russian firm Kapersky -- Do not open e-mail from unknown or dubious senders.

First Published: Jan 30, 2004 18:28 IST