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Anti-virus updates minimise Goner damage

The cost of dealing with the Goner e-mail worm that surfaced last week was kept relatively low because systems were secured.

The global economic impact of Goner was estimated at $5m (£3.5m), most of which comprises cleanup costs for organisations that did not have updated anti-virus software, according to the research firm Computer Economics. The company estimates that only 10% of the amount is for loss in productivity.

About 800,000 computers received the Goner worm, but anti-virus software vendors were able to get virus-definition updates out before Goner spread, Computer Economics said. Antivirus software vendors sounded the alarm about Goner on 4 December, when the worm was said to be spreading as quickly as the Love Bug. Goner infected around 124,500 systems worldwide by the end of last week, according to antivirus software vendor Trend Micro.

Goner has done minimal damage, however, compared with the Love Bug or Love Letter worm, the mass-mailer worms that hit early last year and cost businesses an estimated $8.75bn (£6.1bn), according to Computer Economics.

The Goner worm is disguised as a screensaver and comes as an e-mail attachment. Once opened it attempts to send itself to all addresses in the address book of Microsoft's Outlook and Outlook Express. It tries to delete a PC's antivirus software, and can spread via the instant messaging program ICQ and through Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

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