With Valentine's day upon us, computer users are warned to be on the lookout for recurring socially engineered viruses.
Some of the most successful viruses over the last couple of years have used the promise of love to get users to set off the damaging electronic payload. The ‘iloveyou’ virus, according to research firm Computer Economics caused more than £6bn of damage to computer systems worldwide. Its wide dissemination through the internet was helped by the ingenuity of the email in which it was included.
Now a similar threat comes from the ‘Valentin’ virus, which sends messages to mobile phones users wishing them a happy Valentine’s day and directs them to a web site. On visiting the web site, a file called loveday14-b.hta downloads to a user’s computer and creates another file containing the malicious code in the Windows system folder.
The ‘Matcher’ virus is another, which entices lonely hearts to find partners on the internet only to ruin the user’s computer. The body of the message contains the text: ‘Want to find your love mates!!! Try this, it’s cool.’
Anti-virus firm Sophos warned against the use of electronic greeting cards that can potentially spread such viruses.
‘If someone sends you a Valentine’s e-card, at best they’re an unromantic cheapskate, at worst they’re sending you a virus. Either way, you should probably consider ditching them,’ said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos Anti-Virus.
‘We advocate the old-fashioned approach – flowers, chocolates or a romantic meal for two. These gestures are much more seductive and don’t carry any risk of infection.’
Users are urged to keep anti-virus software up to date and to scan all incoming emails even if they have apparently been sent by someone the user knows.