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My daughter is an MBA who works with computers all day long, and so far this is the only virus she has warned me about. She works for a huge bank in Pittsburgh, and was given this warning. (My server had already caught it. It had been sent to me, but they removed the text totally, thank goodness!) This is long, so just get the jist of it so you can recognize this virus.

A bogus e-mail message masquerading as Microsoft security software is spreading
the Swen worm,
the latest self-replicating electronic sabotage aimed at fouling up computer

The new twist to this new sabotaging spoof, which surfaced last week, is the
official looking e-mail message it's hiding inside.

The message pretends to be from "Microsoft Network Security Department" and
sports a Microsoft
logo. It contains several clickable links to the Bellevue, Wash., computer
company's own
technical support pages, making it seem even more legitimate.

The only real clue to the e-mail's true nature -- and it's not much of one --
is the text of the
letter. It's written in an awkward style, promising that a file attached to the
message is "the
latest version of security update, the 'September 2003, Cumulative Patch'
update which fixes all
known security vulnerabilities" for several Microsoft products.

The attached file is named "installation914.exe". If the recipient opens the
file, the worm -- a
techie term for code that can reproduce itself in machines and across networks
without detection
-- is released and begins e-mailing itself to other users and spreading over

Besides slowing down the machines and networks it infects, Swen will shut down
some computer
security operations. Some time after it infects a computer, it triggers a phony
error message
that asks the user for confidential information, such as an e-mail password,
which can further
allow the system to be compromised.

A report last week on said the Swen worm had affected 1.5
million computers in
its first week.

Microsoft spokesman Brian Peterson confirmed the message is a fake. He said
computer users
should have firewall software protecting their PCs and networks from the
Internet, and should
update operating systems and anti-virus software regularly.

Hackers increasingly use unsuspecting people's computers to launch attacks or
hide their own
identity, said Brian King, an Internet security analyst at the CERT
Coordination Center in

The center, at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon
University, monitors
computer attacks and security breaches and provides information for avoiding or
fixing them.

Such attacks are growing exponentially. The center recorded nearly 22,000
computer security
incidents in 2000, and tallied more than 76,000 such incidents in the first
half of 2003.

King said unlike the Sobig and Blaster worms that struck in the summer, the
Swen worm hasn't yet
prompted enough complaints for his center to begin keeping individual
statistics on it. The
number of inquiries about Swen already are significantly lower than last week,
King said.

"Like a lot of things, it'll pop up and it'll spread for a couple days, people
will be
interested in it, and then it slowly goes away over the next couple days until
it disappears,"
he said.
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