RealTime IT News

Microsoft Joins Security Firms in Virus-Warning Pact

On the same day a new e-mail worm was found masquerading as a missive from Microsoft's technical support, the software giant announced it would partner with Network Associates and Trend Micro to tackle high-risk viruses.

The companies said the Virus Information Alliance (VIA) would create a special Web-based repository for information on viruses affecting Microsoft's technology. Financial terms of the three-way deal were not released.

Microsoft said it would host the repository in its TechNet security site.

The companies said that, as founding members of Microsoft's VIA, Network Associates and Trend Micro would work to help educate and protect Microsoft customers against the threat of malicious code attacks as well as emerging Internet threats.

The alliance comes in the wake of warnings from anti-virus firms Monday of a new e-mail worm (W32/Palyh-A) that pretends to come from support@microsoft.com and contains the message text "All information is in the attached file".

An alert from Mass.-based Sophos said the mail contains an attached file that is a Windows program with a 'PIF' extension.

"If users open the attachment then they will infect themselves immediately. W32/Palyh-A copies itself to the Windows folder, scoops up email addresses it finds on the user's hard disk, and then starts sending itself out by email," the company warned.

"Microsoft technical support does not send out files in this way, and users should think twice before they click," Sophos executive Chris Belthoff said.

Symantec's Security Response unit, which is also mon itoring the virus, said the worm is programmed to deactivate itself on May 30, 2003.

The discovery of the W32/Palyh-A worm comes just days after the 'Fizzer' virus was detected wreaking havoc on e-mail inboxes and on the Kazaa P2P network. The 'Fizzer' virus was considered especially dangerous because it contained a backdoor that used mIRC (Inter Relay Chat) to communicate with a remote attacker and a keystroke-logger that recorded all keyboard strokes in a separate log file.