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John Simkin

New Virus

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This article appeared in on the BBC website today;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4162124.stm

A war has broken out between hackers behind viruses that exploit a recently discovered loophole in Windows 2000.

The viruses written by the competing hacker groups are fighting it out for supremacy on infected machines.

Some of the variants seek out and delete rival viruses they find on machines they manage to penetrate.

The slew of malicious programs exploiting the loophole caused trouble for many organisations early this week as the bugs began infecting computers.

A patch for the vulnerability being exploited by the 11 viruses turned out by the rival groups was released on 9 August and code to exploit it appeared only a few days later. The weakness occurs in the Plug-and-Play component of Windows 2000.

The loophole does not affect PCs running Windows XP, or those who have installed a security update to Windows 2000.

Separate virus writing groups have used the exploit code to create malicious programs. Earlier this week organisations including the Financial Times, heavy plant maker Caterpillar, ABC News and CNN reported that they had been hit by the viruses.

Although Windows 2000 is the most prevalent version of the operating system used in large organisations, Microsoft said the number of firms infected was relatively low.

The software giant has released a free tool to automatically remove the Zotob worm and its variants from infected PCs.

Now newer versions of the viruses have been created that try to destroy bugs from rival groups, reported security firms Clearswift and F-Secure.

"We seem to have a botwar on our hands," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure.

"There appears to be three different virus-writing gangs turning out new worms at an alarming rate," said Mr Hypponen, "as if they were competing to build the biggest network of infected machines."

Variants of the Bozori and IRCbot viruses that exploit the Windows 2000 loophole will delete some of the Zotob, RDbot and SDbot virus programs if they find them on machines they manage to compromise.

Microsoft urged users to turn on auto-updates and make sure anti-virus and other security programs were up to date.

"Our analysis has revealed that the reported worms are variants of the existing worm called Zotob," said the company in a statement.

"Microsoft is working closely with law enforcement to help identify and bring to justice those responsible for this malicious activity."

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John writes:

A war has broken out between hackers behind viruses that exploit a recently discovered loophole in Windows 2000.

I still use Windows 98. I don't trust anything that Microsoft releases until it has been around for at least 5 years.

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Guest Toby Cope
A war has broken out between hackers behind viruses that exploit a recently discovered loophole in Windows 2000.

It seems a shame for Microsoft. Windows 2000 has always been thought of as a more stable operating system: a stable release of Windows Millenium Edition! But then, if you really look hard enough, you can find a bug in everything. :)

I still use Windows 98. I don't trust anything that Microsoft releases until it has been around for at least 5 years.

B) Wow! How can you survive living in the dark ages!? Waiting till Windows Vista comes out.. eh?

Having said that ;) , I think the only stable-ish release from Microsoft since Windows 98 is XP Professional, not Home, unless you install patch after patch after patch! ...and as for SP2!! Well, personally it really irritates me, all the security features in Internet Explorer, one of the reasons why I changed to Firefox...

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Toby asks:

How can you survive living in the dark ages!?

No problem! :) My motto is: "If it ain't broke don't mend it". I am still driving a 1982 Mercedes 200 that I bought from my brother in 1988. It starts first time, doesn't need a lot of maintenance and is very comfortable.

I hate new technology...

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Guest Toby Cope

I agree with your motto on most occasions!! But, i dunno, windows 98 just seems OLD! But it is very true that it does work well and is stable (...I am just going round in circles here!!)

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I hate new technology...

Just a whimsical ironic thought about this comment and what one might infer from the job title you include... :)

I've just junked my '98' machine and software. Little to do with the software, and a whole lot to do with the speed and storage capacity of the hardware being incompatible with what I have begun to demand!

And I'm hoping (probably forlornly) that Norton security will prevent all but the most determined virus/hacker etc... ;)

Ed

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Guest Toby Cope

To be honest, I have always heard really bad reviews about Norton security packages and have had some bad experiences myself.

:)

My step-mother found 3 worms on her computer (which had Norton Anti-Virus) after she installed AVG Anti-Virus Free edition!

Also, my laptop came with Norton. I used it for a while but when the trial ran out I installed AVG Anti-Virus Free editon. It found 2 viruses that Norton had not picked up on.

Although Norton is a lot of more (very expensive amount of money!!) there are free programs which do just the same, and more in some cases!

Download and find out about AVG 7 from here

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Yes, Win98 IS old, but (like my 1982 Mercedes 200) it works. I just had a look at the hit counters of two websites that I maintain. They both contain educational materials for language teachers and are accessed mainly by teachers from their educational institutions or from home. The hit counters indicate which operating systems were used by visitors. These are the figures:

Site No. 1 - since January 05

98 - 17424 visitors

XP - 13856 visitors

2000 - 10064 visitors

Other OS: significantly fewer visitors than any of the above

Site No. 2 - July 2005 only

XP - 7150 visitors

2000 - 2012visitors

98 - 1417 visitors

Other OS: significantly fewer visitors than any of the above

I'll probably ditch my Win98 system when I finally find a burning need to do something that I can only do with a newer system. But, now that I'm retired, I tend to spend my money on eating out, travelling, playing golf, etc...

I've used Norton AV for many years. It allowed one virus into my system around five years ago, but since then my system has been virus-free and stable. I pay 17 pounds per year for Norton AV.

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