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TECHNOLOGY

Kama Sutra worm hits home

Many users practiced 'safe computing' to avoid damage

By Marsha Walton
CNN

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*Hot Movie*

F***in Kama Sutra pics

Fw: SeX.mpg

Fwd: Crazy illegal Sex!

give me a kiss

Miss Lebanon 2006

School girl fantasies gone bad

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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Many computer users around the globe apparently heeded the warnings about a worm with a sexy name and took precautions to protect their data from the destruction of "Kama Sutra."

"When people get afraid, they clean their computers. All the media coverage has been very useful. People found not only this worm, but other malware," said Fernando de la Cuadra, International Technical Editor at Panda Software in Spain.

The Kama Sutra worm, also known as Blackworm, Nyxem, and Blackmal, is a type of malware, or malicious software that infects PCs using the Windows operating system.

Discovered January 16, Kama Sutra was designed to destroy common files such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents when each computer's calendar hit February 3.

The worm arrived via e-mail, enticing computer users with promises of sexy pictures. The subject lines included "School girl fantasies gone bad," "Hot Movie," "Crazy illegal Sex!" and "Kama Sutra pics." But when users clicked on the attachment, they got an infected machine instead of pornography. (Watch how the worm seduces PC users -- 1:36)

The number of infections worldwide has been estimated at about 300,000, with the highest numbers in Turkey and India. While most large companies with computer networks are believed to have had plenty of time to cleanse their systems, home users and small businesses who did not use the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software are expected to have the most damage.

Few specific damage reports are available yet.

"These will only get reported when people get home from work, and it will take awhile before they figure out who to call," said Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer of F-Secure Corporation in Helsinki, Finland.

Hypponen says his company and others have been "banging the drum" to get the word out on this risk, because in most cases running anti-virus software and using intrusion detection systems could easily cleanse a Windows operating system of the threat.

While most large companies took care of the problem days ago, Hypponen says one Italian company with several thousand infected machines was a little behind the curve and was expected to shut down its network today to deal with the problem.

"They will be using pen and paper there today," he said. He did not name the company.

Another difficulty in evaluating the damage is the embarrassment factor.

Individuals may not want others to know they were looking for salacious pictures; companies don't want the world to know their security systems were compromised.

"Large companies never want to give information about a disaster. It may have a high impact and they keep it a secret," said de la Cuadra of Panda Software.

In the United States, the FBI weighed in on the threat.

"Immediately upon learning of this latest worm, the FBI acted swiftly and jointly with our partners in law enforcement and the anti-virus companies to investigate its origin and author(s). The investigation remains ongoing," a statement said.

The FBI directed computer users to additional computer safety tips on the Internet at the FBI Cyber Division's Internet Crime Complaint Center: http://www.ic3.gov/media/2006/060202.htmexternal link.

So far there is no word on the origin of the worm or its creator.

With thousands of Internet viruses and worms circulating all the time, security experts say events like Kama Sutra should alert computer users that they need to be vigilant about securing their systems, from financial documents to precious family pictures.

"Note that Kama Sutra will do the same thing again on the third of every month, so rather than risking your computer files, it is a much better idea to bop this nasty beast on the head by running anti-virus," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos, a computer security company based in the United Kingdom.

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