Another major virus outbreak has been averted as it appears companies have learnt their lesson following the millions of pounds worth of damage caused by the Love Bug.
Late last week, antivirus company Network Associates branded the Prolin internet worm a 'high risk' after it infected several US companies. Other antivirus companies including Symantec and Sophos gave the virus a 'medium' risk categorisation.
The worm, dubbed Prolin (after the message it executes) or Shockwave (it arrives in the guise of a Shockwave file named creative.exe), was developed by an unknown hacker called The Penguin. However, the virus appears to have caused very little damage, despite the warnings.
Damage is being limited by the vast improvement in virus awareness among administrators, said Alex Morgan, founder of the Enterprise Virus Alert Community (Evac), a neighbourhood watch scheme linking email administrators from around 20 countries.
Evac members use email and SMS messages to inform each other when they spot a virus outbreak.
"It is the email and system administrators who need to be aware," said Morgan. "They have the power to stop the propagation of these viruses at the source - the emails servers, the firewalls etc. They are now realising that this makes life a lot easier for them and takes very little effort."
Morgan said Evac sent a message out to its members about Prolin at 5.10pm (GMT) on Friday 1 December, "and in the most part they then did what they needed to do".
"Some downloaded the latest virus definitions, some got their firewalls to stop the attachment, and some ran round and told their users not open the email. It doesn't matter what they did, suffice to say they stopped the user receiving the virus or opening it - probably about 60 to 70 thousand addresses. That makes a big difference to the 'success' of an email virus," said Morgan.
"Users shouldn't need to be aware of virus attachments, because if proper protection was given at the source they would never see them anyway, and if they do get to the desktop their helpdesk has already told them not to open it," he added.
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