To the delight of mouse-clickers around the globe, the so-called Kama Sutra Worm scored high marks on foreplay - but failed to deliver the knockout blow many security experts feared it would.
Considerably fewer-than-expected cases of the file-destroying worm, which induces PC email recipients through promises of pornographic pictures and videos, have been reported since Friday's activation date, computer security experts said. Hundreds of thousands of machines reportedly had been infected with the Kama Sutra or Nyxem worm.
Many credited the media's extensive coverage of the outbreak with encouraging users to disinfect their machines and update them with the latest anti-virus software.
"The amount of machines really still infected on Friday was much smaller than the total amount of machines that got infected (and cleaned) during the whole outbreak," Finnish anti-virus vendor F-Secure said Sunday. "This number is probably in the tens of thousands, which is not a lot of computers out of, say, one billion computers in the world."
Users not rebooting their machines on Friday also may have averted a widespread outbreak, F-Secure said. The worm only overwrites files and disables security software 30 minutes after being rebooted on the third of the month, security experts have said.
Even before the activation date, most experts knew systems that were updated against the worm, also known as Nyxem.E, would be safe. "Sit down, have a cup of tea, and work out, if you have done everything you should have done to ensure your computer isn't at risk from the Nyxem worm, and indeed any of the other 120,000 pieces of malware in existence," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.
Not everyone was prepared.
Italian media reported the city of Milan shut down 10,000 of its computers after technicians discovered the bug only a day before it was set to be activated. F-Secure also reported isolated calls to its support center.
Experts are mixed on the lessons learned from the worm scare.
Some think the publicity generated will encourage people to continue practicing safe computing, while others believe the fact that a doomsday scenario never unfolded may prompt users to take similar malware threats for granted.