How can we stop the spread of worms?

Thursday, 22 May 2003, 11:11 AM EST

Automatic software security measures can ensure malicious executable and program files such as that in the latest W32/Palyh-A e-mail worm do not make it into users' inboxes, a security expert claims.

Companies that block Windows-based programs at the mail gateway will help to both prevent and reduce the spread of self-propagating viruses across the Internet, according to Paul Ducklin, Sophos' head of technology for Asia-Pacific. Ducklin's comments follow the announcement over the weekend of the latest W32/Palyh-A e-mail worm.

The offending e-mail, which purports to come from support@microsoft.com, carries a hoax Windows program with the file extension ".pif" (program information file). PIF is an older programming file type that was used in Windows version 3.1 and DOS as a shortcut for loading an application. The W32/Palyh-A attachment is accompanied by the message text "All information is in the attached file".

Although the worm is not technically malicious, opening the attachment allows the file to copy itself to the user's PC Windows folder and then send the .pif-based program to any e-mail address stored on the hard drive.

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For in-depth information on computer viruses, visit the Viruses section of HNS.

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