VIRUSES REAL AND IMAGINARY

REAL: A particularly nasty new virus named “Klez” is making the rounds by e-mail. It has the usual characteristics: it arrives in a randomly-generated message from someone you know, with a file attachment that does nasty things when you click on it. This one stands out because it does particularly nasty things that are difficult or impossible to recover from. I’ve wrestled with it three times now – one defeat, leaving the user to reformat her hard drive; one draw, where the virus is gone but the side-effects continue; and one victory, after three hours of hard work. You don’t want this one.

So a quick refresher is in order.

This virus was identified on April 19. To be protected, you must have virus software that has been updated in the last thirty days. If you have virus software, update it and keep it up to date! If you don’t have virus software, or it hasn’t been updated in so long that you can’t get the updates – get to a store and buy Norton Antivirus 2002! Now! Do it!

If you use Microsoft Outlook, open it and click on Help / About. If you’re running Outlook 2002, you’re protected against most e-mail viruses. If you’re running Outlook 2000 and you see a reference to “SR-2,” “Service Release 2,” or “Security Update,” you’re also protected against most e-mail viruses. If there’s no reference to a Service Release, or if it says “SR-1” with no reference to security, then go to the Office Update site and install Service Release 2! It’s a big download and you’ll need the Office 2000 CDs to apply it – but when you’re done, Outlook will be locked down tight against evil attachments.

If you’re using Outlook Express, go to Windows Update and upgrade to Internet Explorer 5.5 SR-2 or Internet Explorer 6.

Don’t open file attachments! It doesn’t matter who the sender is, it doesn’t matter what it purports to be – if you’re not specifically expecting a file attachment, just delete them!

IMAGINARY: There’s another hoax e-mail that warns users to delete the file “jdbgmgr.exe,” purportedly a virus that damages a victim’s computer system two weeks after first infecting the PC. It’s a perfectly harmless file, and deleting it will break some Java programs and scripts. As always, a message that suggests you “forward the message to everyone you know” is always a hoax. Here’s an article about the “teddy bear” virus, so-called because the icon for the file looks like a little teddy bear.