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Virus Roundup The Internet is alive with virus infections and vendors of antivirus products have wasted no time in informing the world about them.

This is the conclusion we draw from a raft of security alerts, notices and the like which dropped into our in-box or have been phoned through to us this week.

To avoid general virus fatigue we've decided that the easiest thing all round wi a general round up with links to further information.

First up, a fresh variant of Magistr, an email-aware worm which can delete files and has the potential to damage a user's Flash BIOS chip, has been discovered by Russian antivirus firm Kaspersky Labs. Like the original virus, Magistr.b may appear in randomly worded emails but differs because it carries a more destructive payload - capable of deleting data on network and hard discs on rebooting.

Messagelabs, a managed services firm which scans it clients email for viruses, has intercepted 17 copies of the virus so far. This makes it a little troublesome but the outbreak falls far short of the thousands of intercepted files "my pants are on fire" outbreak associated with SirCam.

Next up we have the first malicious program that spreads in Desktop Themes files. The Lara Croft Theme Worm masks itself as a Windows desktop decorating application with a Tomb Raider theme and is believed to spread exclusively via Internet Relay Chat (IRC) sessions.

The worm doesn't carry an infectious payload and is considered hard to catch so its interest is in its curiosity value.

Meanwhile, the Apost email-aware worm, which we covered yesterday, has spread itself a little more widely than at first expected. MessageLabs has blocked 344 copies of the bug, an increase is attributed to US workers coming back to work after Labor Day weekend.

As usual ,antivirus vendors are in the process of updating virus definition files to detect these viruses. Users are encouraged to update the antiviral protection and to avoid opening suspicious attachments.

The sudden spate of virus reports (coincidence or conspiracy?) follows a "study" by Computer Economics that virus infections have cost $10.7 billion per year, with Code Red accounting for $2.6 billion.

So far we've ignored this on the grounds that the methodology of the study doesn't seem any better than: a) going down the pub for a few beers, b) writing telephone number on the back of a fag packet and c) publishing the biggest number at the damage caused by Code Red (or was that Red Bull and vodka?) ®

Bootnote

Singapore and Belgium have signed a agreement to exchange virus bulletin information, according to the Press Association. What good will putting virus bulletins in the hands of diplomats do? And why Singapore and Belgium? Has the world gone mad?

Related Stories

Hardware-trashing virus spreads by email (story about Magistr)
Email worm is one-day wonder
'Microsoft' sending out dangerous new Internet worm
SirCam worm enjoys virus gang bang
Users haven't learned any lessons from the Love Bug
Rise in viruses within emails outpacing growth of email
Teenager finds virus, acclaimed world-saving genius

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