February 14, 2007 12:17 PM PST

Viruses promise heartbreak on Valentine's Day

Beware of e-mails bearing Valentine's Day greetings, or you may get a digital heartache.

At least two romance-themed security threats are arriving in e-mail in-boxes on Wednesday, researchers have warned. One purports to be an electronic card from American Greetings and includes "Happy Valentine's Day!" in the subject line. When a recipient clicks on an in-message link to view the "card," however, a Trojan horse virus surreptitiously turns the computer into a spambot, or zombie, said Dmitri Alperovitch, a research scientist at Secure Computing.

Valentine's Day virus

The virus quickly became one of the top five threats of the day, with a few million infected e-mails detected, Alperovitch said. However, it is not expected to become a long-term threat.

The other threat is a worm-laden e-mail attachment that, when opened, sends itself to e-mail addresses stored on the recipient's computer. It may attempt to download malicious code designed to take control of the machine and turn it into a zombie, according to security experts at Sophos.

The e-mail subject lines used in that attack can vary from "Be My Valentine" to "Happy Valentine's Day" or "Valentine Love Song."

This worm accounted for more than three-fourths of all the malicious software listed on Sophos' virus monitoring network Wednesday morning, the company said.

Both of the e-mail attacks affect Windows machines, including Microsoft's new Vista operating system, security experts said.

Of a sample of Web searches last week through the weekend, one in 48 searches were Valentine's-related and, of those, one in seven results yielded malicious software, according to Web security services provider ScanSafe.

Malicious hackers and spammers often piggyback on holidays, celebrity scandals and global events for timing their attacks. Many people are particularly susceptible to opening fake greeting cards on Valentine's Day, said Alperovitch of Secure Computing. One of the first widespread Internet viruses, the "I Love You" virus in 2000, also preyed on lower resistance to scams in matters of the heart.

Computer owners are urged to use updated antivirus software, which is designed to filter out attacks. However, the safest computing practice is to just delete suspicious e-mails or messages from unknown senders, no matter how lovelorn you are, experts say.

See more CNET content tagged:
Secure Computing Corp., zombie, malicious software, Sophos Plc., threat

10 comments

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What Operating Systems does it affect?
Does Vista ask "Your computer is about to be turned into a zombie, allow or deny?"
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
affects Windows
The threats affect Windows machines, including those running Vista.
Posted by elinormills (181 comments )
Link Flag
Not Linux, not OSX...
...take a wild guess. :)

MAN I'm glad I ditched Windows a long time ago.

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Figures...another Steve disciple
These viruses affect stupid people who dont know better.

Go ahead and spew your blather...
OSX is better because blah blah blah
OSX is more secure blah blah blah
Steve Jobs is god blah blah blah

By the way...I have a Powerbook (667mhz) also, but choose to use my desktop PC.
Posted by da_alman (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And I own a Lamborghini,
but I choose to drive a Ford Escort.
Posted by Macsaresafer (802 comments )
Link Flag
Not News
This isn't news. This is filler. There was nothing worth reporting on, so they report about a virus that attacks windows. Like we've never heard of this before?! It's windows, it's constantly under attack. We're used to it by now, otherwise we would have moved on to linux or bought a mac.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Clarification
This is not a security issue at all. This is simply social engineering. Since it does no harm to the computer Vista will probably prompt you prior to running it, but there is no way for any OS to tell this program from any other internet related program.

A Mac would handle any similar "Virus" the same way, as it has been proved several times in the past.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/2100-7349-6138772.html?tag=yt" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/2100-7349-6138772.html?tag=yt</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.user-groups.net/safenet/mac_trojan.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.user-groups.net/safenet/mac_trojan.html</a>
Posted by Siegfried Schtauffen (269 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Beware 123greetings.com
Beware 123greetings.com. Recently I received an invitaiton to
view a valentine card from a friend at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://" target="_newWindow">http://</a>
www.123greetings.com. The crappy card displayed for about 30
secs. and then redirected me to a blank page and a pop-up
window (in a mac no less) urging me to install a system cleaner
to delete my internet history. Bums all.
Posted by flashfast (38 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Feedback to comment
Hi, I'm Steve from 123Greetings.com. I'm surprised and upset at the amount of negative publicity we are getting! We never meant it that way. We are out here to reach people and touch lives across the planet. Some freaks out there are trying to emulate our mailing format and install spyware, malware, etc. in others' systems. We are concerned about it and investigating. Meanwhile, I request all of you to visit our website www.123greetings.com for a clearer picture. No need to beware of us... beware of those freaks, instead!
Posted by steveand123 (1 comment )
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