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Global computer virus attacks through e-mail

September 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A global e-mail virus attacked hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of computers Thursday.The cyber attack is slowing down and even shutting down electronic business and communication around the world.

The virus is showing up in e-mail containing what look to be .PDF files.

Computer users who open the documents find their PCs and Macintoshes overrun with spam e-mails, essentially shutting down valid e-mail delivery.

Here's how you can avoid the virus, and what to do if your computer is already infected.

It's a worldwide virus that even struck Eyewitness News and parent company The Walt Disney Company. Instructions told people not to open it and to simply delete it. But even if you did open the e-mail you might be OK if you didn't open the attachment.

The e-mail might even have the name of someone you know. On the subject line you will see the words "Here you have" or "Just for you." The spam e-mail will then go on to tell you about a document that it wants you to open. That document appears to be a .PDF file, which is a text file that can be shared over the Internet. But this is not a .PDF file at all, it is a virus.

"The first thing that it does is it tries to kill security software that it finds on the machine. It also then tries to spread itself by looking for all e-mail addresses on the user's machine and sending itself off," said Symantec Product Manager Kevin Haley.

Symantec, makers of Norton anti-virus software, says the best solution is to not open the e-mail and especially don't try to open the so-called .PDF document attachment.

If for any reason you clicked on the link in the e-mail, then you're probably infected. Your next step is to run your anti-virus software scan. That should eliminate it.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security are investigating the virus because the agency said the spam e-mail affected NASA and other federal agencies.

So again, if you get the e-mail, don't open it, just delete it.

Symantec believes we won't see this problem Friday.

"We have seen that the site serving up the malware, the link is no longer functioning properly. It's been taken down, so users should be safe, even if they do mistakenly click on it," said Haley.

In some cases the "Here You Have" virus not only slowed down sending and receiving e-mails but it stopped them altogether.

This new virus was the second hottest search on Google Thursday.

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