Human temptation opens Pandora's box of viruses
A report published by Sophos Anti-Virus, the world's leading
developer of corporate virus protection, indicates that some of the
most prevalent email-aware viruses of the year so far have spread
rapidly because of the psychological temptation they present to
computer users. Sophos's research highlights the importance of
maintaining a healthy degree of paranoia when opening email
attachments, as well as keeping anti-virus software and other
"Viruses like the Love Bug prey on our
inquisitive nature and turn virus fighting into a psychological as
well as a technological battle," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "The temptation to
open a loveletter or a joke is hard to resist, but this is the age
of the mass emailing virus when the consequences of letting your
guard down can be significant and widespread. We urge computer
users to follow safe computing guidelines."
Although the Love Bug first appeared in May 2000, Sophos's
statistics show that it is already the 2nd most frequently
encountered virus of the year. It was marginally beaten to 1st
place by Kakworm,
which first hit in late 1999 but is still commonly encountered
because users have not installed the necessary patch from
Microsoft. The fact that email-aware worms dominate the Top Ten
shows how the increased interconnection of computers is allowing
viruses to spread further and faster than ever before.
Whilst new viruses, such as the Love Bug, have received intense
media attention, viruses that have existed for more than a year,
such as Pretty and
feature prominently in the Top Ten. Sophos advises that users
should be alert against the threat from all computer viruses, not
just those stealing the headlines.
To view in full the statistics for the last six months, please
Other developments in the first six months of 2000 included:
- Legitimate concern about the Love Bug was subsequently
exploited by anti-virus companies, which hyped a series of viruses
that posed little threat to computer users.
- A number of anti-virus companies, for example, drew particular
attention to viruses that are set to trigger on specific dates,
such as Smash on
the 14th July, rather than highlighting the fact that viruses pose
a potential threat every day of the year.
- Some anti-virus companies continued this trend by releasing
warnings about viruses that may infect mobile phones and fridges.
Sophos advises that no such viruses currently exist and at present
these devices lack the sophistication to be infected.
- David L. Smith, author of Melissa, has still not
been sentenced for causing over 80 million dollars worth of damage
to North American businesses. Melissa first appeared in March 1999,
yet continues to feature in the latest Top Ten statistics.
- A poll recently revealed that the majority of Filipino citizens
were proud that the Love Bug originated in the Philippines. This
comes at a time when virus writing is in danger of being glamorised
by the media in general.