Windows Worm Spreads

UPDATED: Media outlets including CNN, ABC network, and the New York Times have been hit hard by a computer worm.

Experts at security specialist Sophos said that “separate groups of hackers are releasing a barrage of worms in a battle to seize control of innocent users’ computers.”

“Once one of these worms has control over your computer, it can use your PC for sending spam, launching an extortion denial-of-service attack against a Web site, stealing confidential information or blasting out new versions of malware to other unsuspecting computer users,” Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, said in a statement.

The attacks appear to be related to the Zotob.B virus, which reported on Monday.

Zotob.B has been identified as a low-risk threat by security firm Trend Micro, but if the user is infected with the worm, the damage and infection rate could spell trouble for Internet users.

It’s the second variant of the plug-and-play vulnerability under the Zotob name. Zotob.A is similar to Zotob.B in that it infects and replicates itself, but uses a file called “BOTZOR.exe” in the Windows systems directory.

The bug exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft’s plug-and-play code found in Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Server 2003. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant released a patch for the vulnerability Tuesday as part of its monthly security patch update.

Reuters reported that CNN broke into regular programming to state on the air that personal computers running Windows 2000 at the cable news network were affected by a worm that caused them to restart repeatedly.

Sophos advised users to visit to have their systems scanned for security vulnerabilities.

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