Forget about e-mail attachments, a new virus, dubbed "Smooth
Talker" by anti-virus experts, has hit the Internet disguised
as a simple e-mail. This virus contains no attachment, as its payload
is delivered when the user reads it. The level of persuasion in the
message is such that few users can avoid damaging their own computers
after reading it. For the safety of the reader of this article, excerpts
from the actual e-mail cannot be shown.
like a hypnotic trance," explained virus researcher Jeremy Westfield. "The
text in the message is enticing and so convincing that the reader
feels the need to destroy files. We've even heard of some severe
cases in which the reader does physical damage to their computer,
such as smashing the monitor with the keyboard or lynching their
mouse." Mr. Westfield himself has deleted registry entries and
scratched CDs while studying the virus.
"It's very hard to resist," continued Westfield. "You
need to be fully prepared to face the virus and concentrate real
hard if you want to... um... escape from the... the... er, excuse
me, I have to go format some floppies and rename some DLLs."
The virus is difficult to detect because the subject and sender
change constantly. There is no patch or virus definition file to
detect this virus yet, since the programmers keep deleting their
source code or unplugging the computer while the hard drive is being
Attempts to study the psychology behind the message have so far
been a failure, since the scientists analyzing it constantly get
up, walk to their computers, and format the hard drive. "I can't
even read a sentence without feeling the need to forward the virus
or install spyware," said psychologist Brenda Herrington, who
quickly proceeded to place some magnets near her hard drive.
Symantec and McAfee are discouraging people from reading e-mail.
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