Wednesday, July 25, 2001

At least it’s a polite
computer virus

The computer virus du jour, called "Sircam," offers a friendly greeting ("Hi! How are you?) as one of its many opening lines. It can also ask the same question in Spanish.

David Calef, vice president for technical support at SuperGeeks Inc., said this virus appears to have started its PC-terrorization rounds July 12.

It is especially insidious.

Calef said, "It randomly picks what it wants to do to you," and it sends itself out with various subject lines via e-mail addresses which may be familiar, such as e-mail the Star-Bulletin has received from at least one law firm and a public relations company.

He said it searches a PC for address books, and because it has its own built-in e-mail engine, it "does the large-scale e-mail, deletes files, it has a 1 in 20 chance of deleting all files and directories on the C drive, it has a 1 in 34 chance of filling remaining space in your hard drive with junk."

Calef said Macintosh users are probably not vulnerable.

He said the virus also has the ability to execute files. "Every time you run a program or application like Word or Internet Explorer -- this virus gets control briefly," Calef said.

Once it finds a computer's address books, it randomly chooses documents and sends them, inviting recipients to look over the attachments.

"If you're one of those guys who has all your passwords in one file, that's something you wouldn't want to share."

"In a business setting, randomly sending out documents is usually not a good thing," Calef said.

Calef said if the message is only three or four lines long and there's no real explanation of why the person has sent the attachment, "check with that person before you open it."

His company has cleaned up about half a dozen computers, with two more on the way.

"There's a recent survey of people who are at high bandwidth connections," he said, "Half of them don't have a firewall, and a large percentage don't have (anti)virus software, and these viruses are taking advantage of that."

Calef said computer users with antivirus software should not rest on their laurels, either.

"If you don't do the definition updates (for current viruses), you might as well not have the software."

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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