MCI WorldCom, the US telecoms firm, was attacked last week by a completely new strain of computer virus.
The Remote Explorer virus, as it has been named, is believed to be a sophisticated program which runs on Windows NT systems and is self-propagating, requiring no user interaction in order to infect machines connected to a network.
The virus is able to acquire the same security privileges as the system administrator and having gained access to the network, sets about randomly encrypting and corrupting files. The virus also uses a timer to launch attacks in the early hours of the morning when there is a much lower chance of anybody noticing the damage it causes.
Reports indicate that this is an isolated occurrence and as yet there have been no other reported infections. However, the possibility remains that there may be other undetected instances of the virus, or that the creators may be actively attempting to propagate the code into other sites.
Symantec has released a free standalone utility which can detect Remote Explorer in a system's memory and deactivate it, so that an antivirus program can be safely used to completely remove the malicious code. The program can be downloaded from www.symantec.com.
Mick Paddington, senior product manager at Symantec, told PC Week: "This is a pretty complex virus - somebody has obviously given it a lot of thought.
As far as we can tell it was written by a disgruntled employee and hasn't managed to spread outside of the target site. It's a cleverly written virus, but the author has concentrated on its ability to cause damage far more than its ability to spread itself around."
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