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8/9/2005
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Warning To IT Security Pros: It's August -- On Guard!

August has traditionally been a rough month for IT security pros, an anti-virus vendor warned Tuesday as it told users to keep alert even as business slows down.

August has traditionally been a rough month for IT security pros, an anti-virus vendor warned Tuesday as it told users to keep alert even as business slows down.

PandaLabs, the research arm of Panda Software, said that while vacations are in full swing and businesspeople catch their breath before launching into the fall selling season, virus writers are as busy as ever.

August, in fact, has been a dark month for three out of the last four years, said Panda.

In 2001, the Sircam worm, best known for the mundane text of the message that brought the payload -- "Hi, how are you?" -- debuted, as did the much more dangerous Code Red worm that targeted Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS) and blew through the Internet with blitzkrieg speed.

Two years later, August 2003, was the month that saw Mimail (August 4), MSBlast (August 12), and Sobig.f (August 20), a one-two-three punch that sent security experts scrambling to pick up the pieces that month and more.

In particular, MSBlast hit hard, with its impact visible even a year after the fact.

Last year, a pair of bad Bagles and one MyDoom popped up in August. The most significant, said Panda, was MyDoom.p, which added Yahoo's People Search database to earlier MyDoom efforts that used the Google, Yahoo, Lycos, and Altavista search engines to find additional e-mail addresses for spreading.

"When business activity decreases, many people drop their guard," said Luis Corrons, the director of PandaLabs, in a statement. "It's essential that businesses are just as alert as ever, if not more so.”

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