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New breed of psychological viruses emerge

Hey man, the virus told me to do it... honest

Virus writers are turning to psychology to victimise unwitting PC users, according to one antivirus expert Wednesday.

The warning comes as the MTX virus gains momentum. This virus has a particularly sinister element to it as it blocks access to antivirus Web sites, effectively preventing users from seeking help. According to Graham Cluley, technology expert at antivirus firm Sophos, MTX is also a perfect example of the current trend for pyschological viruses.

"It used a number of ways to get people to click on the attachment," he explains. Invitations to view a new Napster site, to look at hardcore porn and one asking "Is Linux good enough?" were deliberately aimed at a wide audience, Cluley says. "It used clever psychology and we are increasingly seeing this in new viruses."

Cluley says people need to remain on the look out for suspect attachments over the Christmas period as many viruses will come disguised as festive gifts such as tunes and screensavers. "Don't lower your guard just because you have had a few too many sherries at the Christmas party," he says.

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