PrettyPark Virus Litters Cyberspace


Event Summary

A new strain of the PrettyPark virus is creating havoc on the Internet this week. If a user's desktop computer becomes infected with it, the result is that it connects the user's computer to chat rooms, and sends private system information out for public viewing.

There have been some reports of desktops being connected to more than one chat server at a time. If the infected desktop cannot find a chat server to connect to, it tries to connect to another one. In some cases, up to 90,000 hosts have been reported trying to connect to a chat room server at one time. The virus is spread through e-mail and makes modifications to the registry of a user's Windows desktop without their knowledge. The registry on a Windows machine is akin to the kernel on a Unix machine. These areas of a computer are the heart of the operating system, and should not be changed or updated by novice users.

Market Impact

It is thought that this virus originated in May of last year from France.

This virus has the capability to dramatically increasing traffic on a company's network infrastructure. For sites that pay bandwidth usage charges to their Internet Service Provider, this virus has the potential to significantly increase usage charges if enough desktops are affected. Some of the chat servers the virus was programmed to connect to include servers on the following corporate networks: AOL, Verio, ANet, CIFNet, and Stealth Communications.

User Recommendations

With numerous reports of PrettyPark running rampant, now would be a good time for users to make sure their Anti-Virus scanner is up to date. All reputable Anti-Virus scanners have a feature that keeps them up-to-date with the latest virus inoculations. If your desktop starts displaying a 3D pipe screensaver, and this is not a screensaver you had previously setup or enabled, there is a good chance that PrettyPark has infected your system.

An alternative to running anti-virus scans on the desktop, is to run them on the messaging server. This way, viruses are discovered and inoculated more expeditiously and the cleanliness of the systems, networks, and cyberspace is not left up to user's discretion. The gist of this approach is that it is more work for network administrators, and less work for the users, however, the benefits to all adjacent LANs and WANs is far more substantial.

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