Worm shuts down Webmail

Lindsey Reed

A new computer worm that crawled into Western’s network didn’t manage to cause much damage.

The Novarg, or MyDoom, computer worm was detected at 5 p.m. on Monday by Network Computing. E-mail services were suspended for hours afterward because no new virus definition had been created.

Network Computing Director Dave Beckley said e-mail services were turned back on at 10:30 p.m. on Monday.

“At this point, it’s blocked from our e-mail server, and we shouldn’t see any more problems,” he said.

Between Monday night and Tuesday afternoon, 43,473 messages had been rejected.

The worm arrives as an attachment and sets up a “backdoor,” in which remote access can be opened to a person’s computer and to the information and programs stored on it, he said. This poses privacy issues for users of infected computers.

Students should not assume that an e-mail attachment is safe – even if they recognize the sender name – because the information could be false, he said.

MyDoom could cause a “denial of service attack,” in which an affected machine could attack another machine, and a group of affected machines could cause a Web site not to work, Beckley said.

The Symantec security response Web site states that the worm could cause the denial of service starting on Feb. 1 and has a trigger date to stop on Feb. 12.

Richard Kirchmeyer, vice president for Information Technology, said the impact of MyDoom is no worse than any other virus in recent months.

He said the damage a virus can cause depends on how long it takes a company to create a cure.

“It could take a couple of hours to a day or more,” he said.

Cincinnati junior Cameron Knight said he had his computer professionally cleaned during the winter break because it had been affected by 735 viruses.

He said he had not kept his anti-virus software updated.

“I lost a lot of information,” he said.

Knight said he wasn’t worried when he learned of the MyDoom worm because he now keeps his anti-virus software updated and refrains from opening e-mails from unknown senders.

USA Today reported that more than 1 million copies of MyDoom had been blocked in 168 countries within 23 hours of its appearance by a security firm known as MessageLabs.

It was reported that 1 in 12 e-mails moving across the Internet Tuesday were generated by MyDoom.

Reach Lindsey Reed at [email protected].