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Snared

I was horrified to find a virus on my PC this morning. It’s called W32.Blackmal and my Norton Anti-virus programme picked it up automatically. The worry though is whether it found its way onto my hard disk before the automatic update that ran this morning.

Looking up the virus payload on the internet, I see that it attempts to delete one’s security settings in Windows and disable the resident anti-virus program, so that it can harvest one’s address book and then use it to send out more copies of itself to anyone in it. The worrying sign is that my Norton anti-virus program is ‘hanging’ when I try and scan.

Internet security is of course one of the things I do professionally and being caught-out is almost unheard of. This is probably a lesson to all of us using a home computer, in this case a ‘shared’ wireless laptop. Particularly where children are concerned, there are dummy sites out there that have been deliberately set-up to lure them into a visit, normally via an innocent search for a favourite programme or character across Google, Yahoo or some other engine. What happens then is that the virus may be attached to an image, which when viewed with low security settings or an out of date anti-virus programme, will neatly drop the virus payload onto the visiting Personal Computer.

This is a simplified explanation but remember, that your security is only as good as your last security update and even then, if you leave settings, such as ActiveX controls turned on, there’s always a risk of catching something nasty. It could be a simple irritation or it could be one of the new generation of ‘blended’ threats, that actively seeks to steal anything that looks like personal or financial information from your PC, bank account log-in scripts and so on, which are then emailed to Yuri and his mates, somewhere between Estonia and Petroplavosk.

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