Arnie terminated? Sick Schwarzenegger suicide note leads to Trojan, Sophos reports

July 26, 2004 Sophos Press Release

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Messages posted to the internet claim Arnold Schwarzenegger has committed suicide, and direct browsers to a Trojan horse

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
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"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 Cluley.

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 including Pikachu and Kyle from South Park. Even Bill Gates has been used as the psychological trick to dupe users into opening infected files.