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Q&A: Sasser worm explained

By CNN's Manashi Mukherjee

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS

Computer Worm

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The Sasser worm has raced around the world over the past week, exploiting a flaw in Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system.

Q. What is Sasser?

A. Experts at Microsoft say the Sasser worm attacks a security fault on the Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP operating systems to attack unprotected computers, causing networks to crash and systems to fail.

Q. What is the difference between a worm and a virus?

A. A virus is different to a worm because it requires human interaction to set it in motion. Generally a virus is activated when a user opens an e-mail with an infected attachment. Once unleashed, a worm sends itself around the Internet, preying on computers with the security lapse.

Q. What kind of damage occurs from a Sasser infection?

A. The worm causes computers to crash and reboot numerous times, which in turn congests computer networks, slowing down systems worldwide. Experts believe that Sasser does no permanent damage to files or hard drives, but they fear that future versions of this worm could be harmful and even more aggressive.

Q. How can you get rid of it?

A. Microsoft has set up a Web site with instructions and downloadable anti-virus software. (Click hereexternal link)

Q. How to protect from future "outbreaks?"

A. To protect a home computer, experts agree that automating anti-virus software to stay current and downloading the latest software updates is a good way to stay away from these problems. Also do not open e-mail attachments from unknown persons, which often may contain a virus. Moreover users might consider installing a firewall, which blocks these bad elements from getting to your computer.

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