Why did support @ microsoft send me a virus this morning?

A: Meet Palyh, the latest prolific Windows worm

Windows users everywhere are urged to update their anti-virus definitions following the discovery of a new worm, which poses as one of a series of odd messages from Microsoft.

Palyh (AKA Mankx), got a strong start of the weekend and is spreading rapidly, at least if our own in-boxes are anything to go by.

The pest is an email and network attack worm that includes a downloaded Trojan horse component, according to a preliminary analysis of the virus by security outfit iDefense. After a computer is infected with the worm it attempts to create copies of itself in remotely shared startup locations on a network.

The virus also attempts to update itself by linking to a Web site. Hopefully this avenue of mischief will soon be closed.

The virus normally arrives via email with one of the following subject names: Re: My application, Re: Movie, Cool screensaver, Screensavers, Re: My details, Your password, Re: Approved (Red. 3394-65467), Approved (Ref. 38446-263), Your details.

Within this emails is an infectious attachment of filetype .pif, .pi or .uue. Again selection of these filetypes is random. Double click of the attachment and you get infected, natch. Palyh scans files (with .dbx, .eml, .htm, .html, .txt, and .wab) for fresh prospects for infection.

This behaviour means the virus is likely to be prolific. As usual Mac and Linux users are immune from infection.

The virus always appears to come from support@microsoft.com.This email address is, of course, spoofed (a common enough trick among VXers).

Standard precautions apply to defending against the bug: update AV signature files and (if you're an admin) consider introducing controls to block executables at the gateway.

You know it makes sense. ®

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