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The Sober X Worm

Sober X is known as the most damaging worm of 2005. This rapidly spreading infection worked by distributing messages that looked like official email from the FBI and CIA. The contents of the message includes a statement claiming that the government recently discovered that you were viewing illegal sites on the internet, singling out your computer by its IP address. The message is usually written in English or German.  You are then instructed to open an attached file which includes official questions that need to be answered. If the attachment is opened, the computer becomes instantly infected. Sober X has the ability to disable system security settings and a firewall. It can also send mass mailings of similar emails to other users found in your address book. Sober X often blocks access to sites hosting malware solutions, such as those by McAfee and Symantec. Unlike the average computer worm, this one can create backdoors and leave a user exposed to various exploits.

How the Sober X Worm Works

The hidden intent behind the Sober X worm is causing the recipient to panic, hoping they will open the attachment and ultimately infect their own computer. Aside from using government agencies, this worm may also arrive in the form of Delivery Status Notification emails, messages offering Paris Hilton videos or others pertaining to celebrities and social situations.

Upon being first detected, Symantec Corporation labeled Sober X as a tremendous threat, claiming that it was one of the worst mass-mailing worms they had seen in years. They also claimed that once infected, it was a great probability that a user's personal data would be stolen.

McAfee's Avert Labs logged that well over 73,000 user computers reported the worms detection within the first few days of its discovery. MessageLabs Ltd., a British security company, reported detecting more 3 million copies of Sober in many of its variants in a 24-hour time span. Still, most experts labeled it as a medium risk, claiming that it wasn't as widespread as other strains, particularly the MyDoom worm that began infecting systems in the previous year.

Like most forms of malware, Sober X is only known to infect those using a Windows operating system. As of now, it is reported that both Linux and the Mac OS X have not been impacted.

How Worms Spread

Exploits like Sober X and others are commonly attempted by numerous malicious programmers. These infections may come disguised as love letters, software, explicit videos and photographs, free screensavers or even Microsoft security patches and program updates.

Experts recommend that Windows users should take extra precautions in order to avoid the threat of worms. This starts with remaining cautious of emails, especially those carrying file attachments. If it the mail seems to have originated from a reliable source, it could simply be an infected computer looking to spread the worm. Other essentials include protecting your computer with a reliable anti-malware solution, one capable of removing worms, viruses and other common internet threats. This program should receive frequent updates in order to keep you free of the latest infections.

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You can protect your computer from viruses without expensive software. Instead, follow these simple tips:

Stay up-to-date on all system updates.

Don't download any email attachments you weren't expecting.

Avoid freeware and peer-to-peer sharing sites.

Use alternative web browsers and email software.