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Y2k fix email contains its own bug

Virus hidden in message that claims to come from MS

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Email users are being warned to watch out for a sneaky virus that masquerades as a Y2k fix from the mighty Microsoft. Hackers have latched onto people's fears about the millennium bug, and created a selection of email messages that promise a free Y2k fix. But on opening, the email's attachment -- which claims to come from support@microsoft.com -- the user activates the virus, called Y2KCount. The next time they log on, the virus scans for their user name and password, and sends it back to the creators of the virus. Or at least that's the theory. These fraudsters can supposedly use the ISP account without the user's knowledge for free -- and send emails as if they were that person, according to Paul Brettal, product consultant at Data Fellows. "It is a clever virus because the anyone would be able to send emails and look like they work at that company. They would also get free access to the ISP account -- more of an issue in the US than the UK, where more ISPs make monthly charges." Brettal said the virus was under control, and had not yet surfaced in the UK. What's more, Jason Holloway, Data Fellows country manager, said the virus itself seemed to have a fault that would prevent it from wreaking havoc. "The Y2KCount virus seems to have a fault in the coding -- a problem in the activation routing. As far as we are aware, this means it has been unsuccessful in sending any user names and passwords back the creators of the virus. "This is similar to around 75 per cent of the viruses we see because they are largely made be amateurs." However, Holloway warned that the Y2KCount did show the dire possibilities of such a virus. Similarly, Microsoft is not taking any chances. Earlier this week, Don Jones, Microsoft's director of Year 2000 readiness, issued a warning: "The Y2k-related email message that claims to come from Microsoft is a hoax. Consumers should not open the attachment but rather delete it immediately." ®

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