With virus writers, hackers and spammers disguising their attacks as bogus Valentines cards, Sophos is warning computer users not to get carried away trying to find out who their secret admirer might be.
According to the IT security and control firm, users must exercise caution when opening and clicking on links contained within unsolicited electronic greeting cards, as a Sophos poll reveals that eight out of ten systems administrators are worried that ecards pose a security risk.
Sophos notes that while systems administrators are clearly well aware of the risks, it's essential that all employees are educated about the dangers and taught how to avoid falling victim. Cybercriminals are well known for using social engineering tactics to trick unwary users into inadvertently downloading malicious code - this Valentine's day will be no exception as the fraudsters will try and exploit all the fun and romance for their own ends.
* Sophos online poll of 383 respondents, February 2009.
"One of the hackers' favourite tricks is to disguise their attack as an ecard from an anonymous admirer, and as Valentine's Day approaches we can expect the fraudsters to redouble their efforts," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Sysadmins are sick to the back teeth of lovelorn workers allowing cybercriminals to breeze into corporate networks, and it wouldn't be a surprise if some want to pour cold water over the festivities and block all electronic Valentines."
"Everyone loves to receive a Valentine, but for those people who are left out this Saturday, the danger is that they'll be even more keen to open a romantic ecard they find sitting in their inbox when they go back to work on Monday," continued Cluley. "Our advice for would-be Romeos would be that maybe it's time to be a little bit braver and put pen to paper instead of finger to keyboard."
Public information film about Valentine eCards in the office from SophosLabs on Vimeo.
Sophos advises all users take computer security seriously every day of the year, and ensure their PCs are fully secured against the threats of viruses, spam and malware, as well as up to date with the latest security patches.
Disclaimer: Please bear in mind that this poll is not scientific and is provided for information purposes only. The comments expressed on this page are those of a subsection of poll participants, and not necessarily those of Sophos. Sophos makes no guarantees about the accuracy of the results other than that they reflect the choices of the users who participated. Sophos reserves the right to edit participants' comments for the purposes of clarity, brevity and decency. Sophos reserves the right not to publish the comments of all participants.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.