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Cyber virus causes trouble

From jammed-packed e-mail inboxes to shut-down train systems, the so-called Sobig virus has caused national problems.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | August 21, 2003

From jammed-packed e-mail inboxes to shut down train systems the so-called Sobig virus caused national problems.

Corporate and government e-mail systems were hardest hit, and some CSX trains came to a halt in the second major virus to hit cyberspace in two weeks.

Also known as the Sobig.F virus, it infects PCs running Microsoft's Windows operating system. It turns PCs into relayers of "spam" e-mail, clogging servers and crashing networks.

Users were warned to watch for subject lines that include "Details," "Thank you" or "Wicked screensaver."

At the peak of the virus Wednesday, as many as one in every 17 e-mail messages was infected, according to reports from Dow Jones.

CSX passenger and freight trains in the Washington, D.C., area were stopped after CSX's telecommunications network was overtaken by the virus.

E-mail security experts said the virus was one of the fastest growing ever tracked. In a public statement, Mark Sunner, chief technology officer at MessageLabs, said the Sobig virus "marked an unprecedented new level in virus propagation and demonstrated the growing ability of virus writers to disrupt business around the globe."

Last week computers were attacked by the Blaster worm. And Sobig may do even more damage this week. Sobig disguises the sender of the e-mail because the "from" line on the e-mail is faked.

When the e-mail is opened, the virus harvests e-mail addresses from an infected machine and e-mails itself to them. Variations of the Sobig virus have been around for more than six months. The virus was not destroying data.

But even if anti-virus software deletes the virus attachment, e-mails still clog in-boxes.

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