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Klez tops 2002 virus charts

Plus top 10 virus hoaxes

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Klez is the most abundant virus for 2002, according to Sophos, the anti-virus software firm.

The second most common virus is the Bugbear worm, which made the number two slot even though it was only detected in October 2002. In third place comes Badtrans, the password-stealing worm which was first detected in November 2001.

During the year, Sophos detected 7,189 new viruses, worms and Trojan horses, bringing the total number of bugs on its books to more than 78,000. On average, the Sophos virus labs claim to produce detection routines for more than 25 new viruses each day.

Sophos has also published its list of top 10 virus hoaxes for November. The most prolific was an e-mail commonly called JDBGMGR, which accounted for 22 percent of all fake viruses in the month. As with many viruses hoaxes, JDBGMGR tries to trick users into deleting a file on their computer to protect themselves from a supposedly real threat, typically the Bugbear worm.

Unfortunately, gullible victims who follow the instructions on the mail will actually be deleting a program called Microsoft Debugger Registrar for Java, which computers need to carry out certain functions properly. This bogus alert has actually been in existence in one form or another since mid 2001, and its origins are thought to be in one of the world's Spanish-speaking nations.

After JDBGMGR, the so-called "Budweiser frogs screensaver" was the next biggest hoax for November, accounting for 11.5 percent of such e-mails. This mail, which is said to be a variance of the "Good Times" e-mail from the mid 1990's, not only decries Budweiser frogs screensavers as evil, it also claims that if users merely read the words 'Budweiser frogs screensaver,' their computer will be infected with a virus. Ironically, when many users forwarded the e-mail on to others, they included 'Budweiser frogs screensaver' in the subject line of the mail.

Other notable hoaxes in November were the non-existent "World Trade Center Survivor" virus, which ranked 10th, and a hoax that promised to dole out a share of Bill Gates's fortune (USD245) if users forwarded the mail on to friends. The Bill Gates mail ranked ninth.

According to Sophos, the Meninas da Playboy ruse ranked third for November, followed by the "Hotmail" hoax and "A virtual card for you."

"All too often, users receiving e-mail warnings of viruses circulate them to all their contacts in the mistaken belief they are doing good," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant, Sophos Anti-Virus. "In reality, these actions cause uncertainty, waste bandwidth, clog up e-mail servers and spread disinformation. Businesses should instruct all employees to send all such e-mails to a single, nominated person who is responsible for checking out whether the threat is real or fake."

© ENN

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