A computer virus that targets Japanese users of the popular file-sharing network Winny continues to wreak havoc in the Land of the Rising Sun—as well as generate headlines, the Associated Press reports via MSNBC.com.
The virus, named Antinny, uses the Winny program to access files on users’ PCs—typically music or video, but not limited to such—and then makes the files available to other Winny users, according to the AP.
Its effects have been felt throughout Japan. So far it has hit Japan Airlines and Japan’s National Defense Agency, as well as a handful of schools and companies, compromising various forms of information from passwords to personal information, the AP reports.
The very nature of the virus keeps it from becoming extremely widespread, at least in comparison to the viruses that commonly affect Microsoft’s Windows software, because only users of the Winny file-sharing applications are affected, according to the AP. However, the Antinny writers could modify the virus to strike other English-language file-sharing sites like BitTorrent.
Japan’s government and a number of businesses in the country have already taken steps to curb the virus’ mayhem. Winny is no longer allowed on computers within government facilities, and employees who continued to use the program after they were told it was prohibited have been fired, the AP reports. Government employees have also been warned about using the Winny program at home, especially when their home PCs are used for work, according to the AP.
Shinzo Abe, the Japanese government’s chief cabinet secretary, told the AP, “The most secure way to prevent the leakage of information is not to use Winny on your computer.”
After the virus reaches a user’s computer, it renames itself based on popular files being searched for by Winny users at that time, the AP reports. Any person who downloads the file and opens it subjects their computers to searches by Antinny, which randomly selects files and makes them available to other Winny users, according to the AP.
The virus is extremely difficult to combat with antivirus solutions or similar remedies because it’s constantly morphing into versions that aren’t picked up by security software, the AP reports. Trend Micro, a software producer, found some 46 different forms of the virus in mid-May, according to the AP.
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