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Asia fights back

Beijing, Aug. 21 (Reuters): Asian countries today fought back against an e-mail virus that turned computers into spam machines around the world and was believed to be the fastest spreading Internet virus ever.

But experts in China, Singapore, South Korea and Japan said an avalanche of e-mails caused by the SoBig virus could crash servers and slow down computer operations if users did not weed out malicious messages from their inboxes.

The Internet worm tunnelled its way through tens of thousands of computers around the world, they said, infecting Windows systems and using them to send junk mail, called “spam”.

Engineers such as Yi Xiaoyi, who manages some 45 million free e-mail accounts at China’s largest Internet media firm Sina Corp, said panic over the virus, called SoBig, had mostly subsided. “Everyone with an e-mail account stands to be infected by the virus,” he said. “It spreads extraordinarily fast and even popped into my own account. ”

Officials at China’s main anti-virus centre in the northern city of Tianjin said it was hard to say how many users were infected. The country has more than 68 million web surfers. The worm was likely written in order to get around junk mail filters, allowing perpetrators to hide.

Bangalore cafes

The viruses forced many cyber cafes and home computers to shut down in Bangalore. But most software firms escaped the attack due to anti-virus measures.

Cyber cafes connected to an Internet cable network of a private firm had been hit by the viruses, which company officials said was being rectified and services restored. “We are sorting out the issue. Nearly 90 per cent of the problems have been solved and we are resuming connectivity with low bandwidth,” a company official said.

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