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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Folk Remedies No Cure for This Virulent Worm

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BAKU, Azerbaijan -- You may not have heard of Klez. I wouldn't have been any the wiser myself until last Wednesday, when Klez found a hole in one of my e-mails and chomped its way through my hard-drive.

Computers mean little to me except for being glorified typewriters, so I called a technician out to see what was wrong.

"Have you defragmented your C-drive?" Misha asked before he'd taken his coat off. "Do you compact your e-mail folders? What version of Office do you have? What sort of anti-virus protection do you use?"

It was beginning to sound like a medical examination. Misha produced a CD case from one of his pockets, adjusted his jam-jar spectacles and sat down at my computer.

For the next five hours he compacted, defragmented, flung compact discs into my computer and made frantic phone calls to other computer wizards called Denis and Kolya and Vadim.

"I'm afraid it's not looking good," Misha said at half past 10 that evening. "When did your computer first go wrong?"

"Monday," I said.

"Oh dear," Misha said. He showed me a virus web site, which explained that the Klez worm lies dormant inside your computer until the 6th of every odd month, when it wakes up and eats its way through all your files. We looked at the calendar.

"It's March 6 today," Misha said.

"Oh dear," I said.

It turns out Baku is infested with computer worms at the moment.

"I'm getting called out five times a day," Misha told me.

I asked him why all the computer specialists in Azerbaijan were Russian.

"I'm not sure," Misha said. "Azeris don't seem to be as passionate about computers as we are. My friend Dima spends his life with his computer. Hardly eats, never goes out. You'll find it's the Russians who write the virus programs a lot of the time, too."

The next day, our enormous, rosy-cheeked neighbor, Gulya, beckoned me to her windowsill.

"What's the matter?" she asked.

"Oh nothing, just a virus," I said.

"A virus?" she said. "Then you'd better have a glass of rosehip tea and some pakhlava. That always makes me feel better."

"No, it's a computer virus," I said.

Gulya stared blankly at me. The closest she's got to a computer is on her way to the Teze Bazaar to buy cream cakes, when she passes the window of the electronics shop. Even if she saved for a year she couldn't afford to buy the cheapest one on offer.

Gulya sighed and propped her gargantuan bosoms on the window ledge.

"Oh dear," she said.

Chloe Arnold is a freelance journalist based in Baku, Azerbaijan.