Security wake up call for Middle East

IT users need to learn from Sobig and Blaster and make sure their security is up to date, is the warning from security professionals. While the twin dangers seem to have abated, experts are warning of copycat attacks

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By  Peter Branton Published  August 27, 2003

IT users need to learn from Sobig and Blaster and make sure their security is up to date, is the warning from security professionals.

SoBig-F is the most prolific virus ever to hit the internet, according to security firms. At its height last week as many as one in 17 e-mails sent globally was generated by the virus. It follows the Blaster worm, also known variously as MSBlast, and other tags, which infected more than one million systems worldwide this month. Windows Middle East received reports of systems being hit across the Middle East, including users in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Dubai in the UAE.

While the threats posed by Sobig-F and Blaster seem to have abated, experts are warning of the dangers posed by copycat worms, and others which exploit the same vulnerability. The Code Red worm which caused havoc on the internet in 2001 was actually Code Red II, an optimised version of the first. Sobig-F is the sixth variant of the Sobig virus, originally released in January this year.

“This is a wake-up call for users,” said Argha Bose, principal consultant for eTrust Security Solutions. Home users were at particular risk from this type of attack because it targeted open ports he said. “The first thing people should learn from this is the need to be more defensive about their systems and who they allow on them.”

“You need to have an understanding of the threats that are out there and how to deal with them,” said Patrick Evans, regional manager for Symantec Africa. “For the home user, if you use a good firewall and keep your antivirus software up to date you should be safe enough.”

The Blaster worm contained code saying “billy gates why do you make this possible? Stop making money and fix your software!!” However, Evans said Microsoft’s security is often unfairly criticised. “The problem is people may not always be aware of the patches they need, or may find it difficult to install them on their systems,” he said.

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