News: Wanted, Dead Or Alive: Virus Writers

 Microsoft is a mite upset, and is offering $500,000 reward to inform on the virus writers responsible for the Blaster and Sobig worms. (In August, if you recall, the Blaster-A worm infected many unprotected home and business computers, attempted to launch a denial of service attack against a critical Microsoft security update website, and, most importantly, mocked Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. The worm exploited a critical security hole in versions of Microsoft Windows. Just days later the Sobig-F worm, which spread on the Windows platform, bombarded email users around the world, clogging up email servers.)
Sophos, the anti-virus people, had this to say: “It’s no surprise to hear that they are fed up with this situation and prepared to offer a reward for the capture of these virus writers,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos.  “There must be people out there in the computer underground who know who is responsible for the creation of these malicious worms. Offering a total of $500,000 will be a great temptation for someone to break their silence – and do all legitimate users of the Internet a favour.”

Update: Blasted?

 While the corporate and government damage wrought by the Blaster worm does not appear to be as bad as it first looked, ordinary users may be in trouble. (The worm uses other infected computers to try to attack more computers, all of which then try to attack part of the Microsoft website with a message calling on Bill Gates to “fix your software” — a sentiment I can help agreeing with, even as I condemn the method of delivery. I’ve counted five separate assaults on my computer, one of them 145 times).
If you have been infected, don’t defenestate yourself or your computer: it doesn’t seem as if the worm actually erases data but it still could be a serious nuisance, and all evidence of it should be expunged as soon as you can. The best way may be to use Symantec’s specially devised tool, which you can download for free from here. Then update your version of Windows, and update your anti-virus. Oh, and install a firewall. I recommend Zone Labs’s Zone Alarm (yes, there’s a free version, and Zone Labs say their products have thwarted the Blaster demon).
Some other links:
Microsoft on the matter (not particularly helpful)
Discussion about anti-virus manufacturers’ ‘slow’ reaction to the worm
The Sophos alternative instructions for removing the worm