First Ever Computer Virus

I have regularly worked with Windows computers since 1990 when my family was given an IBM PC Model 5150. I had never gotten a virus, ever, until last night.

I got this email with a ZIP file. I knew it was a virus, but I opened the ZIP file anyway. (Simply opening the ZIP file typically will not give you a virus; you have to open a file in the ZIP to get it.) Inside the ZIP was one file that appeared to be named something.txt. Before I double-clicked on it I should have immediately noticed all the space after the .txt in the filename. It turns out that the file was named something.txt___________________________.pif (where _ is a space). There were so many spaces that you can’t see the .pif on the end unless you went to Details view.

By doing that I got the W32/Netsky.p@MM and W32/Netsky.ad@MM virus.

I didn’t realize I had a virus until my wife checked her email. She got a message from a friend with a virus payload. Knowing how those viruses work, I immediately checked the headers and did a nslookup on the originating IP (as reported by our ISP’s SMTP server). It was a SWBell.net DSL IP address! I logged in my router and found that it’s my DSL address!

My Windows XP box is fully patched with all latest Windows Updates and Office Updates. The one thing I was lacking was the virus software. I had to redo my computer due to a hardware failure about two weeks ago, and I neglected to reinstall my virus scanner. It’s on now, and it caught the virus very quickly.

I hate the way virus scanners slow down your system, but now I definitely see why they are a necessary evil.

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