Wednesday, January 28, 2004


I would have sworn that I (my Compaq Presario computer) had the latest e-mail worm. (See here for the story.) When it comes to keeping my computer free of viruses, worms, trojans, and other critters, I'm borderline obsessive. I run Norton SystemWorks's LiveUpdate every night before turning the computer off. I refuse to open attachments. I use all the tools provided to me by Windows XP, Norton, and EarthLink. But the other day I received an e-mail message from a long-lost cousin in Michigan. It had an attachment. I guess I thought (hoped) it was a picture, so I clicked it. After that, strange things began to happen.

First, I received more spam than usual. Second, I began getting undeliverable-mail messages from people to whom I had not sent e-mail. Third, I received messages from ISPs saying that an e-mail message I had "sent" was infected and could not be delivered to its "intended" recipient. I would have wagered a hundred dollars or more that I had the e-mail worm described in the Times story.

Nope. An hour ago I went to the Symantec website and downloaded a removal tool for the worm. I did everything it said, including turning off my Internet connection and temporarily disabling System Restore. I waited twenty minutes or so for the tool to scan my computer. It said it did not find the worm. (It was looking for a particular worm, not just any worm.) I suppose I should be happy, but I wanted to kill the critter. As for why those strange things were happening to my computer, I don't know. They may have been signs that other people's computers were infected. Please protect yourself! If you have unprotected computer sex, you are having sex with every computer with whom your computer's companion has had sex.

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