Virus Alert: Magistr threat played down by experts

Unconfirmed reports say that latest virus could scramble vital hard drive data

Computer users were warned on Wednesday that a new virus could attack data on their hard drives, although antivirus experts believe that it is unlikely to cause major disruption.

The virus -- called "Magistr" -- spreads itself by email. As well as searching a user's address book, it can also look through mailboxes to find email addresses. There have been unconfirmed reports that the virus will attack information on a user's hard drive.

Graham Cluley, senior technologist at antivirus company Sophos, said that "Magistr" was unlikely to cause as much disruption as the recent Anna Kournikova virus. "We issued an update at 8am on Wednesday, and so far only one customer has contacted us to say that they've been affected by Magistr," he explained.

Cluley was unable to confirm reports that Magistr could overwrite essential system data. "We haven't been able to make that happen yet. However, many viruses are rather buggy so it's not easy to get them to do what they're supposed to," he said.

According to reports, Magistr tries to trick computer users into running its viral payload by appearing as a randomly generated email.

Take me to the Virus Workshop

Take me to ZDNet Enterprise

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Click on the TalkBack button and go to the Security forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read what others have said.