Family Money: With-Profits Funds
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.
Most commentators would have us believe
that with-profits funds are old hat and have little place in today’s
marketplace. In the vast majority of cases, they are right – but not all.
Ironically, the severe criticism aimed at with-profits
vehicles has come at a time when they have actually outperformed the market.
They are designed to hold back returns when the market rises in order to
soften the blow when it falls. And this is precisely what they have done.
While the FTSE 100 fell almost 45% in the three years to February 2003, the
average with-profits fund lost around 30%. As one pension fund researcher
admits: “In the past three to four years, they have delivered exactly what
they are designed to.”
But at what cost? The concept of ‘smoothing’ returns
is valid but in practice, life offices have paid out more in bonuses than
they can afford. Plummeting stock markets have hit reserves hard – yet
life offices are still committed to maintaining bonus payouts. This double
whammy has left some offices dangerously near insolvency levels. Equitable
Life, Royal & SunAlliance, Britannic Assurance and NPI have all closed
their with-profits funds to new business. More are bound to follow.
This is the single biggest problem facing with-profits
funds. In practice, actuaries making asset allocation decisions are more
concerned with solvency than with maximising returns. They cannot risk
increasing liabilities so they have been forced to sell equities and buy
lower-risk investments, such as bonds. But the long-term returns on these
instruments will not be as strong as equities. So, even if a life office
believes that now is the right time to invest in shares, it cannot afford to
do so. Investment policy is not, then, being driven by the needs of
Small differences in asset allocation can have a huge
impact on investment returns over the long term. For example, one analyst
firm has estimated that ฃ10,000 invested in Scottish Equitable’s
Growth fund could be worth ฃ33,000 in 20 years’ time. The same
amount invested with Equitable Life could be worth less than ฃ23,000.
The bottom line is that the vast majority of with-profits funds will not
offer attractive returns in the long run.
To make matters worse, much of the gains made by life
offices in the coming years will be used to rebuild reserves. In most cases,
payouts to investors in the form of annual bonuses will continue to fall
even if markets continue to rally. In some cases, bonuses will be cut to
zero. If equity markets start to fall again, many life offices may be pushed
into insolvency – and some offices have very little to play with (although
negative free assets do not mean the life office is bust, merely that it is
in poor financial health and would be in serious trouble were it not for a
These are the most important reasons why you should not
invest in most with-profits funds.
Lack of Transparency
But there are others. There is virtually no way of
knowing exactly where your money is being invested. Nor is there any way of
knowing exactly how the underlying fund has performed. Costs are also
unclear – you never quite know what the charges and commissions are. This
may have been acceptable 20 years ago, when there were few alternatives, but
not today when there is a wide choice of transparent products on the market.
You can, for example, invest in an equity income, balanced or cautious
managed fund and know precisely what charges you are paying, what the
individual underlying holdings are, and what the performance has been.
For all these reasons, one large onshore IFA stopped
promoting with-profits funds a year ago and has no intention of changing its
stance in the near future. Another well-known adviser, Bestinvest, does not
sell them either, while another is urging investors seriously to consider
cashing in their funds, even if there are “quite severe penalties” in
the form of market value adjusters (MVAs).
But others are less damning. The MD of one discount
broker house admits that 75% of with-profits funds are “an embarrassing
legacy from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and need to be routed out”. Indeed,
he believes three-quarters of funds will disappear in the next five years
due to consolidation in the sector. But he does argue that a few life
offices can still outperform over the long run – even taking into account
charges, commissions and MVAs.
Another adviser also believes with-profits have a future:
“They are still doing what they were designed to do and there really is no
viable alternative.” While there are products that invest in the same
asset classes, none are specifically aimed at ‘smoothing’ returns in
quite the same way as with-profits. But, again, he believes there are very
few offices running quality funds. Overall financial strength and commitment
to the product are the two most important criteria, he argues, and only
Legal & General, Norwich Union, Prudential and Standard Life make the
grade. Only these offices, he says, have the necessary reserves and equity
exposure to produce competitive returns.
Like most packaged products, with-profits funds offers
nothing more than a well-diversified portfolio of equities, bonds, cash and
property. If creating your own sounds like too much hassle, look at balanced
or cautious managed funds, or distribution bonds. Only if a steady income is
important to you and you like the idea of ‘smoothed’ returns, should you
consider a with-profits fund.
Look for a good asset mix – around 50% in equities –
and healthy reserves (but don’t trust life offices’ own free asset ratio
figures). Then go for a transparent fund where charges and holdings are
clearly laid out. Unfortunately, you may have to wait a while before a
selection of such products is available.
Personal Directions: Winning versus Winners
By Christina Dodd,
founder and managing director of Asia Training Associates
This week I’d like to share some thoughts on the subject
of “winning”. Author and well-known speaker Shiv Khera has put interesting
ideas to paper in his book “You Can Win” and talks about “Winning versus
Winners”. I hope you find his views enlightening.
“What is the difference between winning and being a
winner? Winning is an event. Being a winner is a spirit. Winners have kept
winning in perspective based on their value system. Two inspirational winners:
1. Olympics is a lifetime event. Lawrence Lemieux stopped
racing in a yacht race to help a fellow competitor who was in trouble. The
whole world was watching. His priority of safety for other people’s lives
was greater than his desire to win. Even though he did not win the race, he
was a winner. He was honored by kings and queens all over the world because he
kept the spirit of the Olympics alive.
2. I heard the story about Reuben Gonzales when he was in
the final match of the racquetball tournament. This was an important event and
he was playing for the world title. In the final game at match point, Gonzales
played a super shot to save point. The referee and the linesman both confirmed
that the shot was good and he was declared the winner.
But Gonzales, after a little pause and hesitation, turned
back to shake his opponent’s hand and said, “The shot was faulty.” As a
result, he lost the serve and eventually, lost the match.
Everyone was stunned. Who could imagine that a player with
everything officially in his favor, with winning in his pocket, would
disqualify himself and lose. When asked why he did it, Gonzales replied, “It
was the only thing to do in order to maintain my integrity.” He lost the
match, yet he was a winner.
Winning is an event; being a
winner is a spirit
Three people ran a marathon besides hundreds of others. The
medal was won by a fourth person. But does that mean that these three people
were losers? Not at all. They all went into the race with different
objectives. The first one went in to test his endurance and he did and came
out better than his expectations. The second wanted to improve on his previous
performance, and he did. The third person had never run a marathon in his
life. His objective was to complete the race and reach the finish line, and he
did. What does this tell us? All three with different objectives met them and
they were all winners, regardless of who won the medal.
As Mark Twain said, it is better to deserve an honor and
not have it than to have it and not deserve it. Because dignity is not in
possessing but in deserving.
If winning is the only objective, a person may miss out on
the internal rewards that come with winning. More important than winning is
winning with honor and deserving to have won. It is better to lose honorably
than to succeed with dishonesty. Losing honorably may signify lack of
preparation but dishonest winning signifies lack of character.
The real test of a person’s character is what he would or
would not do if he knew he would never be found out. It is not worth
compromising one’s integrity and taking shortcuts to win. You may win a
trophy but knowing the truth you can never be a happy person. More important
than winning a trophy is being a good human being.
Winners live and work every day as if it were the last day.
Because one of these days it is going to be the last and we don’t know which
one it is going to be. When they leave, they leave as winners.
“There are some defeats more triumphant than
victories.” - Michel De Montaigne.
Remember, winners are gracious. They never brag about
themselves, they respect and appreciate their team members and opponents.
Many people know how to be successful. Very few know how to
handle success. And there is always something about success that displeases
some other people. The reality is that life is a competition and we have to
compete. In fact, competition makes competitive people grow. The objective is
to win, no question - but to win fairly, squarely, decently and by the rules.
Winners leave a legacy
Great people leave something behind. Winners recognize that
no one can make it alone. Even though champions get the medals, they realize
that there are many people behind their success, without whom it would not
have been possible. Their teachers, parents, coaches, fans and mentors. One
can never fully repay those who have helped winners. The only way to show a
little gratitude is by helping those who are following, and the following
poem, by Will Allen Dromgoole, says it all.
The Bridge Builder
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide -
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”
For more information on our programs and how we may be able
to address your training needs please contact me at [email protected]
gassociates.com or visit our website. Until next time ... have a great week!
The Doctor's Consultation:
White sticks and Labradors
by Dr. Iain Corness
As we get older (sorry, that should have read “as YOU get
older” as I have decided to stay the same age as I am for a while yet), one
of the problems we get is failing eyesight. This is more than just the arms
not being long enough, but you are likely to end up needing glasses for
ordinary living as well. I have to admit to wearing contact lenses to see
where I am going, and reading glasses as well to read the newspaper.
There are also those people who have needed glasses all
their lives, who have opted for contact lenses, rather than Lasik treatment to
re-shape the eyeball. For all of us - this week’s contribution is for you.
The first thing to remember is that we were not designed to
wear contact lenses. Stuffing bits of plastic between your cornea (the front
of the eyeball) and the eyelid is decidedly not physiological. The potential
for irritation of the sensitive cornea or the inside of the eyelid is there
all the time. Just remember what the last foreign body felt like in your eye.
Felt the size of a house brick and in actual fact it was only a very, very
Continuous irritation leads to tissue reactions that can
range from small lumps on the inside of the eyelid to ulcers on the cornea.
And all of these conditions are potentially very dangerous. Yes, you can
become blind through wearing contact lenses.
The first factor is the length of time you wear the lenses.
I know that some are being touted as ones you can leave in for days at a time
- but I am sure that I would not. No matter how thin and reputedly permeable,
contact lenses starve the cornea and predispose to ulcer formation. Take my
tip and take the lenses out every night.
After removal, store the lenses in those natty little screw
cap holders that the lens solution people give you with the bottle of goop.
However, the natty little holders need to be clean. When was the last time you
actually cleaned and washed yours? Once a week, give the holders a good scrub
and allow to air dry.
So what solution should you use to store the lenses in
overnight? Honestly, it’s up to you. Having a Scottish heritage, I go for
the cheapest of the ‘good’ brands, but I do know of people who use
‘normal’ saline (which is dirt cheap) and have no problems. The
advertising bumff about stopping protein build-up and all is hype in my book.
Certainly, it is important to get rid of protein deposits
on the contact lens, but you do this with gentle rubbing of the lens with the
finger. With my soft lenses I generally have some solution in the palm of one
hand and drop the lens into it and then rub for a few seconds, then turn the
lens inside out and rub again. After that I turn it right way up, rinse the
lens with solution and have a go at stabbing the floppy thing onto my eyeball.
I also keep a bottle of contact lens lubricant in my drawer
at work, and one on the bathroom shelf at home. The eye specialists also
recommend that you have some non-preserved artificial tears to use.
That’s about it. “See” you next week!
The wife and I moved here only last year, and I’m in a bit of trouble.
You see, I’ve been studying Thai language and I like to practice at all
possible opportunities. Last weekend we took a drive out to the country.
On the way back, we spotted a lovely restaurant and decided to give it a
try. I struck up a little conversation with the dolly who took us to our
table, and there the trouble started. I asked for the restaurant’s
business card and the lady in question brought the card and knelt down
beside me. She chatted in English and patted my arm and leg. She told me
about all of her relatives and friends who are married to farangs. She
told me she was always at the restaurant. I thought she was quite friendly
although she never spoke at all to the wife. The wife was furious when we
left and I was quite taken aback. The wife thinks the lady was coming on
to me, especially when she noted that the lady gave me her personal card
and wrote her mobile number on the back of it. Tell me, Hillary, do you
think she was coming on to me? In front of the wife?
Confused in Chiang Mai
Dear Confused in Chiang Mai,
Be confused no longer, my unbelievably naive Petal. Of course she was
coming on to you! If the young lady was looking at promoting the
restaurant she would have given you the restaurant’s card and its
telephone number, surely! You don’t write your personal mobile number on
your own personal business card if you don’t want the recipient of the
card to ring, now do you! Why was the young lady chatting to you in
English, when you say you like to practice your Thai at all possible
opportunities? The fact that her relatives and friends have married
foreigners doesn’t have any bearing on the restaurant or its food, does
it? Think of it from your wife’s point of view (by the way, please refer
to your spouse as “my wife” and not “the wife”), she is left out
of the conversation while you get your leg felt by a “dolly” (your
word) who gives you her phone number. How would you feel if some hunky
Thai guy knelt down beside your wife, fondling her leg and giving her his
business card, while totally ignoring you? Thais are noted for their
friendliness - to everyone, not just husbands who are prepared to ignore
their wives as well.
My girl’s young brother is staying in our village with another of her
relatives for a few weeks. She has started to bring him over for dinner
and helps him with his homework afterwards and then they go and watch the
Thai TV soapies, which means that I am totally left out and can’t watch
the BBC channel. Since it is my house, surely I should have some say in
this matter? What should I do about this situation?
Dear Noel (with his nose out of joint),
I was tempted to tell you to stop being such a wimp and go and talk to
your lady and let her know that you are feeling left out, but after
re-reading your letter, I think it would be much better if you just buy
another TV and sit in the spare room watching the BBC. Ask for pizzas, as
they can slide these under the door without having to disturb you while
watching the news.
Is it coincidence, or just plain stupidity, but almost all the letters you
seem to get come from farang males in trouble with their Thai ladies
relates to the fact that their ‘lady’ is one they have picked up in a
bar. Surely everyone has heard that saying, “you can take a girl out of
the bar, but you can’t take the bar out of the girl.” I have been
married to my Thai wife for four years now and there has never been a
“bad moment” in all that time. She is beautiful, intelligent (a
qualified accountant) and caring. I do not have to change the locks on my
doors or worry that my suits will be cut up. She does not need cables of
gold to hold her in the marriage, or motorcycles, or houses. There is no
family buffalo on its last legs, and we are not over-run with relatives
from Nakorn Nowhere who want to stay. We have a partnership and mutual
trust. Why don’t some of these men look for the “good” girls?
No Bars For Me
Dear No Bars For Me,
There may be lots of reasons. One may be that the number of “good”
girls is much smaller than the demand, so the single males end up with the
“good-time” girls, of which there is a more than adequate supply. Look
after your wonderful wife and buy her plenty of chocolates (you can send
the champagne to me) and continue to build on your mutual trust. Bar scene
farangs are generally not looking past the end of their noses - it is some
other part of the anatomy.
Camera Class: Shooting a calendar in Thailand
A new business opportunity?
by Harry Flashman
moons ago I wrote about the trials and tribulations of shooting a commercial
calendar. Not one of these calendars you can have done by the photoprocessor,
where they superimpose a year’s worth of dates on a photo of your
grandchild, but a glossy 12 month, 12 image calendar.
My own particular calendars were examples of those glossy
numbers to be hung on the wall. They were commercial calendars for a
concrete company and involved months of work in planning, getting permission
for every proposed image, shooting prospective models and getting the OK
from the Board of Directors, gathering props and painting items in the
required gaudy pink colour of the company. It was also an expensive
exercise. I’ll correct that - it was a very expensive exercise!
However, Howard Greene popped in the other day with his
latest calendar, shot in Pattaya and printed in Bangkok. It is a glossy 12
page number and we spoke on the relative merits of shooting calendars in
this country as opposed to similar projects overseas.
Taking models first - in the US or the UK/EU, you are
looking at model fees that can run into thousands of dollars and you require
signed model release forms as well. Since this particular calendar of
Howard’s was done using the staff of the bar, it was all considered to be
part of the job!
There were some other relative freedoms here that could
not be duplicated overseas, other than at frightening costs. One shot
featured an elephant. Try renting one of those overseas for the equivalent
of 2,500 baht!
The roller-coaster ride was another example. No release
was needed from the venue or arrangements be made for a closed set. In
actuality it cost four tickets on the ride - that was all.
Looking critically at Howard Greene’s images, I find
little to be critical of. He has used long lenses for most of the
photographs to produce a suitably vague background. The roller-coaster shot
is a typical example where by shooting into the sky, there is nothing in the
background to detract from the powerful image. The girls in the pool and on
the beaches are similar, with uncluttered backgrounds.
However, before you glue your 200 mm lens on your camera
and rush down to the beach with a bevy of beauties, remember that any
commercial calendar shoot requires the photographer to (in Howard’s words)
“execute the vision of the client, giving the images consumer appeal.”
And by “execute” he means “carry out” not “kill”.
Of course, if you, the photographer, want to go it alone
(and pick up the cost of printing) then the only person you have to satisfy
is yourself. And hope you’ve judged the market correctly and you can cover
your costs. Even a little profit, perhaps? However, look at the fun you can
A small thing, but something I liked about this calendar,
was the stout spiral spine and hanging tab. The printing was also first
class, with a clear lacquer final finish. These calendars have to last for
12 complete months, hanging on their nails in the hallway or wherever. All
in all, a most professional production and a credit to all concerned,
including the young ladies who featured. Even the service staff, who had
such happy grins it is difficult not to burst into smiles yourself.
We take for granted just how inexpensive life can be in
Thailand, and calendar production is just one of these. I believe there is
an opportunity for some photographic entrepreneurs to begin marketing Thai
calendar production for overseas clients. There are incredible cost savings
for overseas companies to pursue. As for me, I’m not greedy - 5% will do
for bringing it to your notice!
If you would like one of these calendars then you can
order it from the web through www.flbbar.com or you can purchase one
directly from FLB Entertainment Ltd., on Pattaya’s Walking Street, or
through selected Bookazine outlets. RRP is under 400 baht.
Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums
Q. Dear Dr Byte,
I have an old Pentium MMX 200 computer and I have been
using PCyllin anti-virus for several years. So far, apart from one scare two
years ago, I have had a virus free internet experience. You can’t say the
same for some of my friends who seem to catch viruses every time they go
We (my friends and family) have been discussing whether
its time to update our anti-virus applications and I was wondering what you
would advise. For my own part, I have to say that the old adage, don’t fix
it if it’s not broke sounds like a good starting point.
Should I drop PCyllin and upgrade to Norton or McAfee?
A. To update your anti-virus or not to update. That is
How do software companies entice you to upgrade to the
latest versions of their software? Usually, they hope the new version
contains enough enhancements to make you interested enough that you make the
leap. However, as we’ve seen with Microsoft’s operating systems,
improving software doesn’t always mean you’ll upgrade - after all, there
are still several thousand people worldwide running Windows 95. For many, as
long as the old software works, there is no reason to pay for an upgrade.
With anti-virus software, however, you must update your
application with the latest virus signatures in order for it to be
effective. That’s why this is such bad news for the thousands of you using
Norton Antivirus 2000 and 2001. Norton’s maker, Symantec, is pulling the
plug on not only technical support, but also virus signature updates for
these older products. Oh, you didn’t know that did you?
With the release of Norton Antivirus 2003, Symantec says
Norton Antivirus 2000 customers won’t be able to simply renew their
subscription to the latest virus signatures, as they’ve done for the past
two years. Instead, you must first pay $30 to upgrade the software.
According to the support policy spelled out on
Symantec’s Web site, when you purchase any new Symantec product, you
should expect to pay for 2 years of technical support and 2 to 3 years of
virus updates (depending when you buy the product). After that, you must
upgrade to the latest product - or go without anti-virus protection.
Dirty trick? Not so, says Symantec. They explain that
it’s in your best interest to upgrade to the latest Norton product,
because anti-virus software engines need to evolve as viruses and other
security threats become smarter. This means that the scan engine technology
available in Norton Antivirus 5.0, for example, isn’t going to stop the
complex threats appearing today - and that’ll you’ll be better protected
with the 2003 version.
Still, while I can see this point, there remain a few
flaws with Norton’s current policy - and with the product itself. First,
Norton Antivirus automatically installs as part of other products, for
example Norton Internet Security and Norton SystemWorks. Customers who are
comfortable running, say, SystemWorks 2001, must now upgrade to SystemWorks
2003, whose enhancements over the 2001 version are essentially cosmetic
i.e., nil. In the case of Norton Internet Security, while 2001 version runs
fine, NIS 2003 crashes during its boot cycle and it is difficult to
uninstall without downloading a special removal tool from Symantec.
Second, I have always disliked the way the later versions
of Norton and McAfee insert themselves into every aspect of a computer and
even worse, hog all your essential resources such as RAM.
Which brings me to the third problem: Ever try to remove
Norton Antivirus from your computer? It’s not easy. The Windows uninstall
process doesn’t always remove all of Norton’s various changes to the
Registry, so, as with NIS, you have to download a special Norton Antivirus
removal tool from Symantec to complete the task. Symantec say that they are
taking complaints about user installation and upgrade very seriously - but
offer no immediate remedies or solutions.
Other anti-virus apps may also require the removal of
older versions, but the process isn’t as complicated as with Norton.
Another major complaint I have about anti-virus software
is the high price of update subscriptions. I do think that anti-virus
updates should be free - at least for home users. Symantec say, “Doesn’t
our name have value with the customer?” Norton’s name does date back to
the early days of anti-virus software, and McAfee even further back.
What really doesn’t make sense is that other antivirus
vendors have begun to charge even more for their subscriptions. Panda
Software, for example, charge a whopping 108 dollars for 36 months to keep
Panda antivirus up-to-date. In addition, upgrading from Panda Platinum 6.0
to the latest version, 7.0, will cost you $59.95. And upgrades from all
versions before 6.0 cost $69.95 - the same price paid by new customers.
Another player in this field, Trend Micro, recently
increased its annual support fee to $26 when it released PC-cillin 2003. The
increase, however, comes with one year of free technical support and a
promise to include an automatic upgrade to latest version of Trend’s PC-cillin
when one is available. In light of Norton and McAfee’s fee-based technical
support, $10 annual antivirus subscription, and $30 upgrade price, Trend’s
$26 fee starts looking like a good deal. But don’t go yet, fortunately for
you, I have been shouting the virtues of my favourite anti-virus application
which I have been using for the last 7 years. And no its not Norton, McAfee
or Pcyllin or Panda.
I can steer you to reputable antivirus products that do
not charge for antivirus updates. After reviewing the latest releases from
Norton, McAfee, Trend Micro, and Panda, I still vote Vet Anti-Virus number
one in the world.
And at less than $35 for a one year license which
provides unlimited updates and download new versions during the life of the
license, its really very, very inexpensive and very, very underrated. (Oh
and it uninstalls itself as part of an upgrade). Download a fully
functioning demo from www.vet.com.au and buy a licence on line at the same
site. This gets my 5 star rating.
Alternatively, look at AVG Anti-virus which has a free
version. AVG is rated at stopping 95-97% of virus infections. You can
download AVG from the UK developer www.grisoft.com
AVG gets my 4 star rating.
Q. Dear Dr Byte
I read somewhere that someone has developed an Anti-Virus
Virus. While I am all for something that can take on the baddies, I am not
sure if it’s ethical and what would happen if I let lose the anti-virus
virus on my own computer?
Mae Hong Son
A. Is there an Antivirus virus on the loose?
The appearance and spread of viruses throughout the
tech-enabled world is par for the course for home and corporate users.
However, occasionally, a virus contains a more interesting wrinkle than
being named after a tennis player or teen-punk idol. For example, James
Pearce of ZDNet Australia confirmed that tech security companies are warning
of a new virus designed to attack a version of the already-existing Yaha
virus. Trouble is, the new virus may also crash your computer.
The [email protected] virus arrives as an attachment called
“mathmagic.scr”, with the subject “Fw: Sit back and be surprised...”
It attempts to attach itself to all the .exe file in the Windows and
C:\Program Files\Mirc\download folders, but due to bugs in the software may
crash the computer or corrupt files in these folders.
The Sahay virus also checks the computer for
characteristics of the W32.Yaha family of worms, and if any are found
attempts to remove them, and then displays this message: “Title: Exchange
viruses? Message: Hi there.. it seems you were infected with Yaha.k.”
I think the worm was written by an idiot who sPeLlS lIkE
tHiS, and goes on to say... abused my website and got me toreceive the
complaints. Therefore, I have just disinfected you.Don’t worry tho.. as I
didn’t wanna steal from you, I gave you this virus (Win32.HLLP.YahaSux) in
return :) Greetz, Gigabyte [Metaphase VX Team]
The worm then sends itself to all contacts in Outlook’s
address book and restarts the computer. Trend Micro told ZDNet Australia
that in five years working in the antivirus field, they had never seen a
virus attempt to delete another one. “The hacker community on the whole is
a very competitive, small-knit community. It doesn’t surprise me that [the
Sahay writer] has done this, he’s trying to promote his handiwork.”
According to David Banes, regional manager for security company Symantec,
Sahay is not the first virus designed to attack another virus, but it is the
first one for quite a while. It is more usual to receive a hoax email
claiming an existing, necessary file is a virus, such as the Jdbgmgr.exe
hoax, which claims a file is a virus when it is really a debugger register
for Java. Symantec has posted information about removing the virus on its
Web site. “The idea of a virus that removes a virus has been tossed around
for a while, but antivirus companies tend to frown on it,” said Banes.
“Either way you’re running code on someone else’s machine without them
knowing about it.”
So there you have it. Unusual - yes! A virus that does
attack other viruses - yes! BUT ... the surprise payload is that it’s
likely to crash your computer. So my advice, as always, is to protect
yourself with the best ant-virus product you can afford and update it at
least once every week. But maybe, just maybe, someone out there in Cyberland
does have the germ of a good idea...!
If you have any tips that you’d like to share, or any
questions about your internet or pc experience, contact me: Dr Byte,