|Messages posted to the internet claim Arnold
Schwarzenegger has committed suicide, and direct browsers to a
Experts at Sophos have warned computer users that a file posing
as a suicide note from Arnold Schwarzenegger is in fact infected by
a malicious Trojan horse.
Thousands of messages posted to internet newsgroups over the
weekend encourage computer users to download a file containing a
supposed suicide note from actor-turned-politician Schwarzenegger.
In reality, users who run the file may be opening their computers
up to attack from hackers.
The internet messages follow another attempt to hit innocent
internet users with a Trojan horse late last week - in that
instance, the pictures
claimed to be photographs taken of a dead Osama Bin Laden.
The latest messages claim that Schwarzenegger has committed
suicide at his home in California, and read as follows:
Early this morning Arnold Schwarzenegger was found hanging
by his neck from the large oak tree in his Californian garden. In a
suicide note found at the scene he tells of his sordid sex life and
lack of will to live. A copy of the suicide note which was found by
journalists has been included here
"In the modern age many people find out about breaking news via
the internet rather than tomorrow morning's newspapers or TV
reports. The drawback with that is that it's harder to confirm
whether a story is legitimate or not, and rumours and nonsense can
travel across the globe in a matter of minutes," said Graham
Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Anyone
downloading and running the file on their computer will be opening
it up for access by hackers. They are exploiting people's interest
in celebrity news to break in, and possibly steal financial
information or launch spam or denial of service attacks against
other users of the internet. Everyone should exercise extreme
caution about what they run on their computer, and keep their
anti-virus and firewall defences up-to-date."
Sophos continues to recommend computer users practise safe computing as well as running
up-to-date anti-virus software.
"Fortunately, widespread news of the similar attempt to infect
people claiming that Osama Bin Laden had been found dead will make
more people suspicious of this latest message," continued
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the latest in a long line of
celebrities to be used as bait by malware authors and hackers. The
promise of glimpses of pin-ups like Halle Berry, Anna Kournikova, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears or the stars
of 'Sex and the
City' 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
and Kyle from
South Park. Even Bill Gates has been used
as the psychological trick to dupe users into opening infected
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.