Life Stages worm - what can we learn?

June 21, 2000 Sophos Press Release

VBS/Stages-A (aka Life Stages) is a worm that spreads via Microsoft Outlook email and Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

The virus appears to have been written by the Argentinian virus writer Zulu - famous for having also written the viruses VBS/BubbleBoy and VBS/Freelinks.

For further information on VBS/Stages-A and how to detect it please click here.

In June 2000 the virus spread quickly across the internet, infecting many companies. Although it did not spread as quickly as WM97/Melissa or VBS/LoveLetter and does not contain a deliberate data-destroying payload it still caused some companies to shut down their email systems.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the VBS/Stages-A outbreak is that many users have fallen for the same trick once again. In the past viruses have been seen that arrive by email which claim that the attached file is "sexy", "cool" or "funny" and entices unsuspecting users into double-clicking.

VBS/Stages-A underlines that users need to do more to protect their systems than simply keeping their anti-virus software up to date.

Computer users need to be cautious of unsolicited attachments, rather than imagining every single file they receive via email is harmless.

Sophos recommends that companies also practise safe computing, and has published a short list of tips which can be used to dramatically reduce your chances of virus infection.

Some companies may also wish to block certain types of attachments at the email gateway. For instance, are there any circumstances under which you want to receive an SHS or VBS file from outside your company?

If you think you might have difficulty persuading your corporation to buy into these ideas, why not use the argument that it will make your employer stand out as a glowing example of digital responsibility? If they are still unconvinced, then you might try pointing out that this policy might actually act as an insurance for them against the threat of personal or corporate litigation: it mitigates the risk that they might send something inappropriate or dangerous outside the company by mistake.