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Q&A: MyDoom virus threatens PCs

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Have you taken precautions against the MyDoom email virus?
What virus
A program that makes copies of itself -- for example, from one disk drive to another, or by copying itself using e-mail or another transport mechanism.
Aside from installing anti-virus software,  Symantec suggests these tips to guard against computer worms:

•Don't open e-mail from an unknown source.

•Only open expected e-mail attachments.

•Don't automatically open e-mail attachments.

•Don't download programs from Web sites, unless you know and trust the source.

•Update your anti-virus software at least every two weeks.

Source: Symantec

(CNN) -- The MyDoom worm, which prompted a software company to take its Web site offline after it was bombarded with a flood of data, has heightened concern about the threat of computer viruses.

The SCO Group Inc. and Microsoft, which is being targeted by a variant of the MyDoom worm, have each offered a bounty of $250,000 for information leading to the capture of the author of the malicious program. (Full story)

MyDoom.A, also known as Novarg or Shimgapi, emerged nearly a week ago in the form of a spam e-mail message that contained a well-disguised virus attachment. It has been described as the most damaging attack since last summer's twin Blaster and SoBig outbreaks.

CNN's Becky Anderson spoke to Sal Viveros, a technology specialist at McAfee Security in London, about the spread of computer viruses.

Q: There is a potential that this virus will come in through my Microsoft Office software and into my computer. Is this correct?

A: Yes, so basically it disguises itself so there's no clear thing to look for. So, as long as a person is not clicking on any e-mail attachments, they're pretty safe.

Q: How will I know it's there?

A: Well, the biggest thing is that you need some kind of virus-getting software and make sure it's up to date.

Q: There's a certain Y2K sense to all of this. Is there definitely as big a problem out there as perhaps you are suggesting?

A: Oh definitely. We've seen so much traffic generated by this. For the last couple of days if you're trying to access the SCO Web site, a customer that wants to get information can't. So that's costing them millions and millions of dollars. Newsweek estimated that SoBig was about a billion dollars worth of damage. And we suspect this is going to be more than this.

Q: Who sets up a virus like this?

A: All kinds of people. Typically, what we've seen it's males between 17 and 24. It's kind of their cyber-graffiti. Basically they send this out and hope that people get infected, and they get a kick out of it.

Q: Can they be caught?

A: It's very, very difficult to catch them, cause a lot of times (viruses) are not created in an area where there are laws that really bind them. Sometimes they're created in Eastern Europe. Or for a while we were seeing them being created in Latin America or in Asia-Pacific. So, it's very, very hard to track who's creating these things.

Q: Would it be possible for companies to create software that is effectively protected from viruses and can't be inundated by a worm like this?

A: I think that would be very difficult. Because if you were able to do that, you'd need to cut down on a lot of functionalities that are already in PCs. So you'd be really limiting what the user can do.

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