Computer viruses have been all over the news again as a result of the virus which attacked the world's most visited search engine Google earlier this week. The virus responsible has been named MyDoom.M (or MyDoom.O) and is a variation of a virus that was especially prolific in February this year. But in the reams of press coverage so far, what has been lacking is a simple explanation of what damage this particular virus does and how to tell if you're infected. So we called leading Anti-virus firm Symantec, and asked them to explain in technophobe-friendly language.
How serious is this latest virus for home users?
Don't Panic! MyDoom.O does not leave lasting damage to your computer, but it will cause it to mass email from your machine - possibly causing slow performance on your computer.
Is that all the damage it does?
It will also create a security loophole on your computer, which potentially leaves you vulnerable to hackers accessing your PC at a later date.
How can I protect against this virus?
The good news is that if you’re already running anti-virus software and you update it at least once a week you should already be protected. Update your anti-virus software immediately to ensure protection, and also download and install any other outstanding updates for your firewall and for Windows as a matter of precaution and as part of safe computing practice. For more jargon-free advice about ensuring that your Windows security is up-to-date, follow the advice on this page
I’ve never got round to installing or updating anti-virus software... How can I tell if I’m already infected?
Unless your PC is running unusually slowly there is no immediately obvious sign of infection. However Symantec have a free downloadable tool which will scan and disinfect your computer.
How do I disinfect my computer?
Full instuctions are available on Symantec’s site, but here’s the abridged version:
1. Click here to download the My Doom removal tool: Save the file to a convenient location, such as your downloads folder or the Windows desktop,
2. Close all the running programs before running the tool.
3. If you are online, disconnect the computer from the network and the Internet.
4. VERY IMPORTANT: If you are running Windows Me or XP, then disable System Restore. Refer to Symantec’s instructions for further details.
5. Double-click the FxMydoom.exe file to start the removal tool.
6. Click Start to begin the process, and then allow the tool to run.
7. Restart the computer.
8. Run the removal tool again to ensure that the system is clean.
9. If you are running Windows Me/XP, then re-enable System Restore.
10. When the tool has finished running, you will see a message indicating whether MyDoomhad infected the computer.
For more information about the latest developments with MyDoom and associated viruses, see this story on BBC News.