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Bugs are back: 2001 could be another record-breaker for e-mail viruses

January 4, 2001

The year 2000 might be remembered as the year of the "bug" for Internet junkies, says one computer virus control centre. MessageLabs, a British-born application service provider, figures an e-mail virus was detected once every three minutes last year. email this story to a friend printer friendly version post comment to this story "Everyone heard about the Love Bug," said Mark Sunner, MessageLabs’ chief technical officer, in a press release. "But that was just the tip of the iceberg in 2000. Viruses are appearing at an increasingly alarming rate."

By the end of November, MessageLabs had counted more than 150,000 e-mail viruses for the year. "In some months, the number of viruses-per-e-mail reached one in 700, up from one in 2,000 at the start of the year, a disturbing increase of almost 300 per cent."

MessageLabs’ Virus Report for 2000 isn’t all bad news, however. While reports of viruses increased throughout 1999, they decreased at the end of 2000.

But it`2s a small consolation. Despite this decrease between Oct. and Dec. 2000, last year saw many more viruses than did 1999. MessageLabs notes Oct. 2000 as the worst month so far. The company detected 30,678 malicious bugs.

MessageLabs’ report also lists a "top 10" of nasty, travelling code. The Love Bug, which spread rapidly through many a company’s e-mail system last May, was number one. Also on the list was JS/Kak-m, which worms its way into Microsoft’s Outlook Express without help – the attachment need not have been opened for this virus to work.

JS/Kak-m shuts down the Windows operating system on the first day of every month, MessageLabs says.

The ProLin worm made this list, too. ProLin touts itself as "a great Shockwave Flash movie." Once opened, the bug sends itself to everyone the user keeps as an Outlook contact. It seeks and destroys-by-corruption ZIP, MP3 and JPEG files on the users’ hard drives.

"The scale of the problem is now so big that it’s virtually impossible for it to be managed by individual companies. Viruses have to be stopped before they get anywhere near desktops."

In other words, MessageLabs sees a revenue opportunity.

This company says it was the first to catch and defuse The Love Bug at 12:14 a.m., May 4, 2000. And, according to Alex Shipp, MessageLabs’ chief anti-virus technologist, the firm should have ample opportunity to detect bugs in 2001.

"This year was a record-breaker for viruses. There is little doubt 2001 will be even worse."

Stefan Dubowski,


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