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Blackmal down, but may not be out
Published: 2006-02-07

Reports of damage from the Blackmal.E mass-mailing computer virus trickled in on Monday as one research organization estimated that 470,000 to 950,000 computers were infected by the program and other experts reminded people that the first trigger date is not always the worst.

The virus, which is also called Nyxem.E and KamaSutra and has been assigned CME-24 by the Common Malware Enumeration (CME) Project, spread mainly to India, Peru, Italy, Turkey and the United States, according to an analysis by the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA). Computers that remain infected on on the 3rd of any month will have eleven types of data deleted from the hard drive, including any Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF documents.

While early news reports did not discover much damage, the virus is not out, said experts.

"Much as it is near impossible to characterize the spread of most other e-mail worms, it is impossible to catalog the damage caused by Nyxem," the CAIDA analysis concluded, adding that while the reported damage seems small, the cost of preventing the virus and cleaning machines before the virus's trigger date likely were significant.

Also, one expert reminded people that the CIH, or Chernobyl, computer virus failed to do much damage during its initial trigger date, but because it was largely forgotten, caused much more havoc a year later. Another company in India estimated that about 5,000 computers had files damaged by the program.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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