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Microsoft Launches Virus Information Center as Deceptive Worm Floods Inboxes

Microsoft, Network Associates (parent company of McAfee), and Trend Micro announced that they have formed an initiative called the Virus Information Alliance (VIA), a new way for customers to get information about virus threats that affect Microsoft technology. The VIA announcement is well timed; a new network worm called Palyh is spreading quickly through email and LANs.

Palyh, also called the Mankx worm, appears as mail from [email protected], a spoofed address. The email message carries a virus-infected attachment with a .pif extension that Windows treats as an executable. The message body tells users that "all information is in the attached file." The new worm isn't the first to prey on unsuspecting users with deceptive messages. In 1999, the ILOVEYOU email worm shut down many companies' email servers for several hours. Like the ILOVEYOU worm, the new worm replicates itself using users' email address books.

The new worm, which began spreading this weekend, had antivirus vendors rushing to update their virus definitions. As of yesterday morning, many vendors hadn't released new antivirus definitions, which helped lead to the worm's rapid spread. But by last night, all the major antivirus vendors had updated their definitions. New security features in Microsoft Outlook protect users who have up-to-date software: By default, the .pif extension is disabled in Outlook 2000 with Post-Service Release 2 installed and in Outlook XP.

Microsoft and its industry partners hope to educate and alert customers about virus threats, thereby minimizing the future spread of worms such as Palyh. The new initiative, which is long overdue, includes the launch of a new Virus Information Center that contains virus alerts, including technical information about viruses in the wild and information about how customers can protect themselves. In the future, the alliance will add white papers and other resources to help users prevent viruses from spreading. Network Associates and Trend Micro will provide information for the site. Microsoft says it invited all antivirus vendors to participate in the program, but Network Associates and Trend Micro were the only two companies who chose to participate at this time. Microsoft hopes to add more vendors in the future.

Microsoft, Network Associates (parent company of McAfee), and Trend Micro announced that they have formed an initiative called the Virus Information Alliance (VIA), a new way for customers to get information about virus threats that affect Microsoft technology. The VIA announcement is well timed; a new network worm called Palyh is spreading quickly through email and LANs.

Palyh, also called the Mankx worm, appears as mail from [email protected], a spoofed address. The email message carries a virus-infected attachment with a .pif extension that Windows treats as an executable. The message body tells users that "all information is in the attached file." The new worm isn't the first to prey on unsuspecting users with deceptive messages. In 1999, the ILOVEYOU email worm shut down many companies' email servers for several hours. Like the ILOVEYOU worm, the new worm replicates itself using users' email address books.

The new worm, which began spreading this weekend, had antivirus vendors rushing to update their virus definitions. As of yesterday morning, many vendors hadn't released new antivirus definitions, which helped lead to the worm's rapid spread. But by last night, all the major antivirus vendors had updated their definitions. New security features in Microsoft Outlook protect users who have up-to-date software: By default, the .pif extension is disabled in Outlook 2000 with Post-Service Release 2 installed and in Outlook XP.

Microsoft and its industry partners hope to educate and alert customers about virus threats, thereby minimizing the future spread of worms such as Palyh. The new initiative, which is long overdue, includes the launch of a new Virus Information Center that contains virus alerts, including technical information about viruses in the wild and information about how customers can protect themselves. In the future, the alliance will add white papers and other resources to help users prevent viruses from spreading. Network Associates and Trend Micro will provide information for the site. Microsoft says it invited all antivirus vendors to participate in the program, but Network Associates and Trend Micro were the only two companies who chose to participate at this time. Microsoft hopes to add more vendors in the future.

TAGS: Security
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