Fake virus texts send Evil message

The makers of Resident Evil have fallen from grace with security firm Sophos after launching a controversial SMS marketing campaign
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor
The SMS marketing campaign of Resident Evil has been criticised by security company Sophos for causing virus worries among mobile phone users. Game producers CE Europe are rewarding users for sending text messages and emails to friends telling them they have been infected by a virus. This campaign comes only a week after Symbian's warnings about a mobile phone virus in the wild.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said the company has already received a number of calls from worried phone users. Viral marketing campaigns like this increase the workload of IT support staff. "It's an IT administrator's nightmare -- having to reassure users that it is not a genuine infection," said Cluley. "Viral marketing is dangerous -- it creates an attitude that viruses are ok, when we're trying to say be very careful."

A spokesman at CE Europe was unapologetic about the campaign. "It is purely a marketing campaign -- if you go to the Web site it's very obvious that's what it is," he said. "It wasn't our intention to create panic among mobile phone users."

The spokesman said the marketing campaign has been a success -- over 1,400 people have signed up in the six days it has been running and 69 percent of viral messages have been sent by SMS. "We were hoping it would spread in the way a real virus spreads," he said.

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