Antivirus companies say that a new virus, which disguises itself as a program promising to pair people with their perfect partner, is spreading quickly across Europe.
Vendors say that the virus, known as Matcher.A, is less potent than the Love Bug, which ravaged computer systems in May last year, but could pose a nuisance by overloading mail servers internationally.
"What is interesting about it, is that it has a timer and continues to send out emails to everyone," says Eric Chein, head of antivirus research at Symantec. "Mail servers could become overwhelmed." Chein says that so far Symantec has received roughly 30 reports of the virus from corporate customers across Europe.
UK antivirus company Sophos says it has received just over ten reports, but one customer based in France was forced to shut down its mail system. "It doesn't seem to be a vast epidemic," says Graham Cluley, head of virus research at Sophos. "But it is obviously a cause for concern."
The virus, which targets only Windows users, comes attached to an email with the subjet "Matcher", disguised as a program that will find someone a romantic match. The email has the message: "Want to find you love mates!!! Try this its cool... Looks and Attitude Matching to opposite sex."
The virus does not damage an infected computer but is designed to spread quickly. Written in Visual Basic and transformed into an executable file, it periodically sends itself to everyone in a victim's address book. During system boot it also displays the message "From: Bugger" in DOS.
Cluley says that with any luck most users will not be fooled by the incoherent email. "We hope that, because it doesn't look like a regular communication, it won't spread that much."
Take me to the Virus Workshop
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