NEW YORK -- A computer virus circulated rapidly Monday in
the guise of an electronic photo of tennis star Anna
Kournikova, overwhelming e-mail servers throughout Europe and North
Within a few hours, the virus had managed to spread almost as
rapidly as last May's "I Love You" virus, which caused tens of
millions of dollars in damages worldwide. Anti-virus researchers
expected more computer infections during Tuesday's business day in
The virus comes as an attachment named
"AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs" and carries the message "Hi: Check
This!" At least three subject lines have been identified: "Here
you have," "Here you go" and "Here you are" -- all followed by
a smiley face.
"Everybody and their brother and sister in law (are) infected
with this thing," said David Perry, director of public education
at Trend Micro Inc. "Last year, everybody wanted to be loved.
Apparently many people want to see a JPEG (picture) of Anna
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos Anti-Virus
Inc., said the virus writer skillfully combined "the temptation of
the teen-age tennis star with the average fantasy of the guy who
sits in front of the computer terminal."
The virus is known as a worm because it can automatically send
copies of itself to everyone on a recipient's address book. That
could be thousands of copies per person for a larger corporation.
It only spreads through Microsoft Outlook e-mail software on
Windows computers, although Macintosh users and those using other
e-mail programs can still spread the virus manually.
Microsoft spokesman Adam Sohn said the company had released a
security update last June, shortly after the "I Love You" virus
spread using similar techniques. That update generates a warning
anytime a computer program attempts to access Outlook's address
The virus appears to have originated in Europe.
Mikko Hypponen, manager of anti-virus research for F-Secure
Corp., said the virus does not permanently damange computers, but
if left alone will try to contact a Dutch Web site on Jan. 26,
Many anti-virus companies have developed software updates to
filter the new virus, and many network administrators responded by
configuring e-mail servers to automatically reject the message.
A warning to Michican State University users was typical: "If
you receive such a message, please DO NOT OPEN the attachment.
Discard the message immediately."
Vincent Weafer, director of the Symantec Anti-Virus Research
Center, partly attributed the virus's spread to timing.
"Close to Valentine's Day, anything novel or different like
this will get people's attention more than normal," he said.
"They are expecting messages from friends, maybe pictures of each
other or cards. People lower their guards." Send this story to a friend
|The photogenic Anna Kournikova of Russia has yet to win a WTA tournament.||