Safety is best tack on virus threats

Despite the occasional false alarm, it's still better to be safe than sorry when it comes to responding to virus threats, according to users and analysts in the wake of reports last week that the so-called Serbian Badman virus wasn't nearly as deadly as first feared.

The Serbian Badman scare was triggered by Network Securities (Netsec), a relatively little-known Virginia-based security firm. The company claimed the Trojan horse, disguised as a video clip, could be used by crackers to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks similar to the ones that crippled several major Web sites earlier this year.

Trojan programs basically allow crackers to remotely control infected systems.

Netsec - which rushed to the FBI with news of its discovery - claimed that it had unearthed at least 2000 servers worldwide that had already been infected by the Serbian Badman.

The scare ended almost as quickly as it began, though, with security experts quickly dismissing the virus as a mostly harmless version of a much older and well known Trojan horse.

The incident illustrates how the publicity surrounding recent virus attacks can cause a false alarm. But administrators still need to treat reports of every threat seriously, users and analysts said.

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