Sophos has today detected a new computer worm which claims to be a movie of Hollywood actress Julia Roberts in compromising scenes unlikely to have been approved by her publicist.
The MyLife-M (W32/MyLife-M) worm can distribute itself in an email with the subject line "FW: Julia Roberts" with an attached file which claims to show the Oscar winner engaged in unusual activity on the lavatory. The worm appears to have been deliberately spread across the internet, and several users have reported being hit.
If recipients of the salacious email launch the attached file, the worm forwards itself to all contacts in the infected computer's address book. Worse still, if the time is between 50 and 59 minutes past the hour, the worm attempts to delete files from the hard drive.
"The public appears to be hungry for pictures of pretty women in the media, but this is quite different from looking at photos in gossip magazines," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "Viruses often use celebrities to lure innocent but curious computer users. If you're not careful with what programs you run on your PC, you could be flushing your data down the toilet."
The MyLife-M worm can also forward itself posing as a screensaver of another celebrity - the Colombian pop singer Shakira. In this guise, the worm includes a bogus claim that the attached file has been certified virus-free by an anti-virus product in an attempt to reassure recipients that it is not dangerous.
Sophos reminds users that a safe computing policy and up-to-date anti-virus software will nullify the risk of infection. Sophos recommends companies set policies about whether their users can receive executable code from the outside world via email.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.