Shakira worms her way back for an encore

June 06, 2002 Sophos Press Release

Sophos warns of latest threat and rounds up celebrity virus 'dirty dozen'

Sophos, a world leader in corporate anti-virus protection, is warning computer users against the new Shakira Pics email worm (VBS/VBSWG-AQ) which is spreading in the wild.

"This is the second time Colombian hip-shaker Shakira has inspired a virus writer," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "The popularity of pop stars and other celebrities makes them a key psychological aid in virus writers' attempts to persuade innocent computer users to open unsolicited emails."

The new worm arrives in an email with the subject "Shakira pics" and an attachment named "ShakiraPics.jpg.vbs". If the recipient runs this attachment, the worm forwards itself to everyone listed in the victim's Microsoft Outlook address book. It also spreads via Internet Relay Chat (IRC). After spreading, the worm displays the message "You have been infected by the ShakiraPics Worm".

Shakira is the latest celebrity to be the subject of a virus. The promise of glimpses of pin ups like Anna Kournikova, Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears have previously been used to help viruses spread. However, virus inspiration has come from several other less glamorous fields. Political leaders such as Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and PW Botha join cartoon characters including Pikachu and Kyle from South Park. Even Bill Gates has been used as the psychological trick to dupe users into opening infected files.

The message to computer users remains simple - practise safe computing and resist the temptation to open unsolicited emails simply because they feature a familiar name. Blocking double extensions at the email gateway or desktop will negate the threat of viruses such as the Shakira Pics worm.