Around October 1998, an email began to circulate claiming that a
new virus called 'Bloat' had been discovered. The email describes it
as the "first successful multi-application media-file
virus", which targets Layer 3 audio compatible players called MP3
players. It claims the player software becomes infected by opening an
infected file, and subsequently infects all MP3 or EXE files
written-to by the player software.
The hoax virus gets its name from its alleged side-effect, which is
to increase the size of infected files by a factor of up to five.
No such virus currently exists. Although much technical information
is presented in the email to give the hoax credibility, the actual
infection mechanisms are not described in a satisfactory manner.
A number of other factors indicate the email is a hoax. For
example, the email claims that the virus was discovered by a company
called Internet Western Associates, which cannot be traced. It also
claims that McAfee Labs is "the anti-virus research affiliate
of IWA" which is clearly not correct.