Panda joss-stick virus is no pandemic

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Sophos has urged Windows users not to panic following reports of a ‘five-star cyber worm’ that is said to have infected ‘several million’ computers across China. The virus has captured attention because it converts icons of infected programs into a picture of a panda burning joss-sticks.

Media reports from China, including the Shanghai Daily, have quoted members of the Shanghai Information Technology Service Center as saying the virus represents a ‘top level’ threat, because of the risk it poses to networks belonging to government bureaus and companies. One Beijing-based security firm reportedly estimated that several million PCs may be infected by the worm. Sophos, however, has received very few reports of the malware being seen in the wild.

The virus, known as Fujacks-I and Fujacks-J (also called worm.whboy in some media reports), was already detected proactively by Sophos’s Behavioral Genotype Technology.

While the Shanghai Daily story reports that all infections have so far been on Chinese-language versions of Windows, this is not a limitation of Fujacks. The virus will run and spread on English language Windows, and as it is a parasitic virus, can spread rapidly across computers, meaning that a single PC could end up with hundreds of copies of the virus on it. Fujacks is also able to spread to P2P file-sharing networks and onto removable disk devices such as USB keys, music players and cameras.