Feb. 3: Early warnings by anti-virus companies and pre-emptive measures by users helped prevent the Blackmal virus from causing too much damage to computers around the world today.
Blackmal, also known as MyWife, Nyxem and Kamasutra, is a worm that tries to spread through email and deletes Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, Adobe’s PDF files and compressed files like “zip” and “rar” on the third day of each month.
According to government officials, around 80,000 systems were affected by the virus today in India and all the damage had been done by noon.
Across Asia and Europe, too, the figures were relatively small. Instead of the expected over 500,000 PCs, the virus hit only a few thousand computers by midday in continental Europe, while Japan reported no cases of virus attack.
Anti-virus companies such as Symantec and Trend Micro assessed the risk and distribution of the worm as low.
“The media hype actually helped prevent the spreading of the worm as users updated their anti-virus before the virus strike date of February 3. We received around 60,000 hits on our sites for the detection and removal tool in the past two days,” said Sanjay Katkar, chief technology officer of the Pune-based Centre for Anti-Virus Technology, the company behind the anti-virus software Quick Heal.
According to the company, the worm particularly targeted systems in small and medium enterprises and corporate houses across India today.
The low impact of Blackmal was also due to the fact that it had been identified by mid-January and most anti-virus companies had released updates to safeguard against the virus or detect and remove it if affected. The Indian Computer Emergence Response Team had sent out an advisory to 800 organisations on January 23.
The virus spreads through emails with subjects such as “Miss Lebanon 2006” or “a great video”. Once the user clicks on the email attachment, the worm deletes the anti-virus software folders and remains dormant till the third of the next month.