Computer users worry pesky worm is digging into valley | AspenTimes.com
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Computer users worry pesky worm is digging into valley

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A computer virus known as a worm is filling up e-mail in-boxes around the globe and has already been spotted on computers in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The “W32.Sobig.F@mm” worm was first discovered spreading worldwide on Tuesday, and local Internet providers say they’ve gotten calls from concerned customers about the virus’ effects.

The good news is that the e-mails that land in in-boxes don’t spread to other e-mail addresses if they are deleted immediately. The bad news is that getting a number of virus-spread e-mails in an in-box can be pretty annoying, providers say.

“It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s not going to destroy anything,” said Moira Meyers, who works in technical support for Rofintug in Rifle. But Meyers said that if the problem persists in an e-mail account, a network server could possibly experience an overload of information.

Linda Levy, director of the Basalt Library, said she received a warning from the Western Slope provider of the library network. The provider said to be on the lookout for the virus’ e-mails, and secondly that Levy’s own computer had been identified as a carrier of the virus. Luckily, she said, the second part of the message turned out not to be true.

“I have antivirus software on my computer, so it fought the good fight and was just picking up debris,” she said.

The worm is a mass-mailing, “network aware” virus that sends itself to all e-mail addresses it finds in files that have these extensions: .dbx, .eml, .hlp, .htm, .html, .mht, .wab, and .txt. What the worm does is actually called “address spoofing,” said Mike Muse, head of technical support at Sopris Surfers in Carbondale.

“If you have my e-mail address on your computer, when your computer is infected, the worm harvests e-mail addresses out of your contact lists and sends out e-mails from your computer but using my name as the sender,” Muse said. “So any return mail comes back to the person unlucky enough to be on your contact list.”

This particular worm sends out e-mails with the subject line of: Re: Details, Re: Approved, Re: Re: My details, Re: Thank you!, Re: That movie, Re: Wicked screensaver, Re: Your application, Thank you! or Your Details.

The only way to stop the virus from attacking e-mail in-boxes, providers say, is to have an updated form of antivirus software on your computer. That means having the most recent version possible of software such as Norton AntiVirus or McAfee VirusScan.

“We find that the majority of customers we talk to have antivirus software on their computers, but they don’t know how to use it,” Muse said. “They don’t know what an update is, but if their machine is automatically set to update, maybe that’s getting done. We’ve talked to people who have never done an update, and that’s like leaving the door open.”

Updating the antivirus software is like getting the newest and best vaccination – Meyers said anyone suffering from this most recent worm can visit symantic.com, put the name “W32.sobig.f@mm” in the search tool, and there will be a removal tool available for free. It will also list all of the details obtained so far on this particular worm.

To update antivirus software, visit the software’s Web site and download a free update.

“I think it’s really getting to the point where people are going to have to start using that updated software,” Muse said. “Spam e-mail is up to 65 percent of all e-mail people receive, and viruses are becoming a real scourge. If people don’t use it, they’ll constantly have a problem.”

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]


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