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KaZaA the Virus Desktop

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KaZaA the media desktop has been one of the most successful replacements for file sharing after U.S. courts ordered Napster to shut down. KaZaA offers its users a way of sharing music, video, documents, images, and software.

But six per cent of all music downloaded from KaZaA is not music at all, but a virus. Currently, there is no way to infect mp3s with a virus; however KaZaA's poor filtering allows someone to rename a virus to - say - cant_touch_this.mp3.vbs. When you do a search for the song named "Can't Touch This" KazaA will display this as "cant_touch_this.mp3", without displaying the .vbs extension.

This problem affects more than music: Hacker's Digest Labs has found the Love Letter Virus disguise as videos, images and executables.

What does KaZaA say about this? This is what the FAQ has to say:

"Q: Can I get viruses using KaZaA?

A: As always when you are downloading or receiving files from the Internet, you must exercise caution. Certain file types may contain viruses or so-called Trojan horses. You should protect yourself by using regularly updated anti-virus software, for example Norton Antivirus (www.norton.com) or McAfee(www.mcafee.com). Both Norton and McAfee offer free 30-day trial versions that you can download directly from their web sites. Not all file types can contain viruses or Trojans. Music, video, and picture files are generally safe - that includes files with the extensions .mp3, .vaw, .mpg, .avi, .mov, .bmp and .jpg. PDF documents (.pdf) and text files (.txt) are also in general safe. You should be cautious of executable files (.exe) and Microsoft Word and Excel documents (.doc and .xls). These files are specified with a icon in the search results on KaZaA.com."

This is true, however with the poor filtering in the KaZaA media desktop, it is extremely easy for anyone to be tricked into running a virus thinking it is his or her favorite song. ®

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