Sophos, a world leader in corporate anti-virus protection, has announced that it has detected and protected against 6,127 new viruses in the first six months of 2001. In the same period, calls to Sophos’s customer helpdesk suggested that those viruses which demanded the most media attention were not necessarily those causing the biggest problem. Sophos’s research highlights the importance of safe computing practices and the need to keep anti-virus (AV) software up to date.
For the first six months of 2001, the top ten viruses (as recorded by Sophos’s helpdesk) are as follows, with the most frequently occurring virus at number one:
1. W32/Magistr-A 12.7% (Magistr)
2. VBS/VBSWG-X 11.9% (Homepage)
3. W32/Apology-B 10.1% (Apology)
4. W32/Hybris-B 9.3% (Hybris variant)
5. VBS/SST-A 7.0% (Anna Kournikova)
6. VBS/Kakworm 6.7% (Kakworm)
7. W32/Navidad-B 6.1% (Navidad variant)
8. W32/Badtrans 3.8% (Badtrans)
9. W32/Flcss 2.2% (Funlove)
10. VBS/Lovelet-AS 1.8% (Lovebug)
“The highly destructive Magistr worm accounted for more reports to our support desk than higher profile viruses such as Homepage and Anna Kournikova,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. “Magistr sends itself using emails with randomly generated subject lines and text, making it difficult for some people to spot – its dominance underlies the fact that users are persisting in opening unsolicited attachments. However, if you are using up-to-date anti-virus software you should have no problems from this virus.”
In runner-up position the Homepage worm spread rapidly around the world in May 2001, redirecting infected users to pornographic websites.
At number three in the chart is the Apology worm, this is particularly devious since it prevents access to websites containing anti-virus information, and blocks emails to anti-virus companies, another reminder that users should regularly update their AV software.
Despite the media frenzy surrounding its arrival, the Anna Kournikova worm came only fifth in the top ten, accounting for 7% of all calls. The Kournikova worm proved to be something of a “shooting star”, infecting millions of people over a few days, but rapidly dying away.
Other developments in the first six months of 2001 included:
– The detection of the first viruses (FunnyFile and Choke) to attack instant messaging services highlighted the need for increased user vigilance and for businesses to remember the importance of desktop anti-virus software.
– Virus hoaxes continued to cause panic with threats of the SULFNBK ‘virus’ striking on 1st June 2001. Sophos urges computer users to double-check whether a virus warning is genuine or not by visiting a recognised anti-virus website for confirmation.
– The news in June that the suspected author of the Kournikova worm is to face prosecution in the Netherlands represents a positive indication that the authorities are prepared to take action against those responsible for virus distribution.
– The emergence of the Ramen worm in the wild during January reminded Linux users that they are not immune to virus attack.
Sophos is one of the world’s largest specialist developers of anti-virus software. The products are sold and supported through a global network of subsidiaries and partners in more than 120 countries. Sophos Anti-Virus is widely used by large corporations, banks and governments