In an FBI warning issued on Feb. 12, a malicious e-mail virus concealing itself in what appears to be a Valentine's Day e-card is spreading across the Internet. Clicking the link from a "Secret Admirer" will take the victim directly to download the Storm Worm virus.
Lance Ulanoff, Editor-in-Chief of PC Magazine, tells WCBSTV.com the virus originated in 2007 and tends to be a "seasonal" virus that often reappears during certain holidays.
"It's a great concern because people get it as a greeting card, and obviously people will be getting lots of Valentine's Day cards over the next few days," Ulanoff says. "People need to be aware of something coming from someone they don't know."
The virus connects the recipient to the "Storm Worm botnet," a network controlled by the creator of the virus. Botnets allow the crooked e-mailer to engage in online crime including identity theft, denial of service attacks, sending of spam e-mail, and spreading the virus to others.
The Storm Worm, first launched in January of 2007, capitalizes on holidays to spread itself as an e-card from an unknown sender. It directs the recipient to click a link to retrieve the card. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when e-mailing love letters is gaining popularity with younger people, according to a survey by Google.
Obviously, this is a good time to remember the basics of e-mail safety. Don't open e-mail from an unknown sender. Don't open attachments that you are not expecting. Keep your AV up to date, along with your firewall. This may also be a good time to repeat these basics to your users and co-workers.
Because of the FBI's proactive alerts and the media's willingness to spread the message, it is hoped that the virus spread will be minimal.
Online Valentine cards may contain Internet worm, FBI warns (AFP)
E-mail carries love and viruses for Valentine's Day (Information Week)
Gathering Storm Superworm Poses Grave Threat to PC Nets (Wired)
Massive Storm Outbreak Threatens Consumers (CSO Magazine)