SoBig.F, the fastest-spreading email virus in history, slowed down somewhat over the weekend, but security experts warn that replicated viruses could launch a new wave of attacks soon. SoBig.F's creator designed the virus to unleash two broad attacks over the weekend, either of which could have temporarily crippled the Internet, but security experts were able to protect against the assaults, rendering them ineffective. Before the virus expires on September 10, it will try one more broad attack, according to people who have examined its source code.
In the meantime, SoBig.F's long-term effects will be felt for months. According to industry analysts, the virus infected hundreds of thousands of computers every day last week for several days straight. By Sunday, the rate of infection had slowed to just tens of thousands of computers, leading security experts to believe the worst was over. As IT workers labor to remove the pernicious virus from these systems, computer users from all walks of life are pondering what they could have done to prevent the vicious outbreak.
But with viruses, attacks never really end--a bigger and more dangerous virus or worm is always waiting around the corner, ready to take another crack at usurping control of users' computers, launching Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and wreaking other havoc in an attempt to bring the Internet to its virtual knees. In many ways, user education seems to have failed with SoBig.F. Enough people opened infected attachments from unknown users to let this virus spread more rapidly than any other. And the fact that the SoBig.F outbreak was infinitely preventable makes the situation even more frustrating.
So what's next? Security experts say the next generation of the virus, SoBig.G, is just around the corner. Whether this assault will as devastating as--or even more devastating than--its predecessor remains to be seen. Let's hope that next time we'll be ready.