A worm which poses as a caricature of former US president Bill Clinton stole the headlines last month, but old favourites like SirCam and Klez-E were far more of a problem for most Internet users.
That's according to monthly statistics from managed services firm MessageLabs, which stopped 161,904 viruses in March, slightly up on the 135,523 it blocked in February, but well down on figures from the two previous months. MessageLabs reports that virus infection rates are running at around one per 600 emails, compared to one in 30 infected emails at the heights of the Goner and Love Bug epidemics.
In the last four weeks MessageLabs blocked 43,489 emails infected with SirCam. Klez-E, with 21,626 infection-bearing emails stopped, and Magistr (14,729) also featuring prominently.
The infamous Bill Clinton worm (which is also known as MyLife-B or Caric-A) charted at a relatively modest 3,001.
However virus writers tried to give the malicious code a fresh lease of life by releasing four variants of the worm over the Easter weekend. All pose as screensavers, and the main difference is that they use different subject lines and text. None of the fresh variants refer to Clinton.
Alex Shipp, chief anti-virus technologist at MessageLabs, told us that none the variants was particularly successful, though one has managed to infected a number of computers in Australia. He suggests we are seeing the emergence of a trend where virus writers release multiple variants of a virus in the hope that one will be particularly successful at duping gullible users.
A monthly chart of virus reports compiled by antivirus vendor Kaspersky Labs tells a slightly different story. BadTrans-B, SirCam and a Trojan called PSW.Gip feature prominently in its chart, but the runaway leader is the Klez-E worm, which accounted more than half (59.2 per cent) of calls to Kaspersky Labs' support centre. That means the Klez-E worm provoked more support calls to the Russian virus fighters than all other viruses combined for the last two months.
Together the two surveys point to a basic lack of protection against even aged viruses. There's no good reason for this and, in the case of consumers, a number of free anti-virus packages are readily available. Grisoft's AVG AntiVirus is popular with many Reg readers. You can read more about free AV packages, which may be basic but do the job, here. ®
Top ten viruses blocked by MessageLabs in March
All quiet on the malware front
Bill Clinton virus proves user security sucks
Thousands of idiots still infected by SirCam
SirCam virus hogs connections with spam
It's My Party and I'll infect you if I want to
Hybrid viruses set to become bigger threat
MS security memo a mere gesture
Lies, damned lies and anti-virus statistics
Users haven't learned any lessons from the Love Bug
Rise in viruses within emails outpacing growth of email
A plague on all our networks