Goner worm causes limited economic damage

Dealing with the Goner e-mail worm that surfaced earlier this week hasn't cost businesses around the world much money because systems were secured, research firm Computer Economics Inc. said Thursday.

The worldwide economic impact of Goner is estimated to be US$5 million as of Dec. 6, most of which is cleanup costs for organizations that did not have updated antivirus software, according to a statement on the Computer Economics Web site. Only 10 percent of the amount is for loss in productivity, the research firm estimates.

About 800,000 computers worldwide received the Goner worm, but only a few systems were infected because antivirus software vendors pushed virus-definition updates to their customers before Goner was able to spread, Computer Economics said.

About 124,500 systems worldwide were infected by Goner at noon Amsterdam time, according to the Web site of antivirus software vendor Trend Micro Inc.

Goner is small potatoes compared with the Love Bug or Love Letter worm, the mother of all mass-mailer worms that hit the Net early last year and cost businesses an estimated $8.75 billion, according to Computer Economics.

Antivirus software vendors started sounding the alarm about Goner on Tuesday. The worm was said to be spreading as quickly as the Love Bug.

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 security software and can spread via instant messaging program ICQ and IRC (Internet Relay Chat.).

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