Not much Bagle buzz so far

Despite early hype, there have been few reports today of a new e-mail-propagating worm that is using Microsoft Corp. Windows computers to spread across the Internet.

The number has been in the hundreds, said Brian King, an Internet security analyst at the Software Engineering Institute's CERT Coordination Center. CERT tracks computer and network security incidents reported by government, industry and higher education officials.

The so-called "Bagle" worm has an attachment that, if clicked, opens an Internet port that makes the user's computer open to network intruders, who might try to execute destructive commands on the computer or download additional code onto the computer. But despite receiving several hundred reports about e-mail messages infected with Bagle, King said most of the reported incidents suggest that users are not clicking on the attachment when they receive messages containing the uninformative subject line "Hi".

Presumably users learned their lesson from the attack of the Sobig.F worm last August, when users swamped the center with reports, King said.

Antivirus software companies had updates for dealing with Bagle by Jan. 18, the day that reports started coming in, King said. "As long as people are updating their virus definitions, they should be protected," he said.

That does not always happen, especially in federal agencies in which network and system administrators are poorly trained. But King said that administrators should have their systems set up to automatically go out to the Web sites of the antivirus software vendors so that they update their antivirus definitions on a regular basis.

"Standard antivirus advice applies," King said. "Exercise caution when reading e-mail, especially if it looks somewhat suspicious. Don't open executable attachments

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