New virus takes advantage of 'baser instincts'

Wednesday, March 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A new destructive computer virus called ``Naked Wife'' takes advantage of users ``baser instincts,'' an antivirus company spokeswoman said, comparing it to the most recent widespread virus that used the name of tennis star Anna Kournikova.

This new program hit at least 30 organizations and one federal agency Tuesday, security experts said.

Steve Trilling, director of research at the Symantec Antivirus Research Center, said about 20 of Symantec's clients in Canada, the United States and Europe had been hit.

Trilling said the virus, which appears with the subject line ``FW: Naked Wife,'' deletes almost all of a computer's vital system files. It also sends itself out to everyone in the user's e-mail address book.

``It essentially destroys your Windows operating system,'' he said.

Trilling said the virus may have come from Brazil. Information inside the virus source code mentions AGF Brasil, an insurance company, and the name ``MHSantos.''

``One could fake this stuff, but indications in a virus for the most part tend to be correct,'' Trilling said, adding that names found in the recent ``Love Letter'' virus eventually led to that program's creator.

The virus e-mail contains an attachment called ``NakedWife.exe.'' Like most viruses, the recipient's computer is only infected if the receiver runs the attachment, and major antivirus companies have released software that detects and removes it.

Susan Orbach, spokeswoman for Trend Micro, said her company has received reports of infections from 10 corporate clients, including two large telecommunications firms, a federal agency and a ``multinational conglomerate,'' she said.

``This is not any new technology we haven't seen before,'' Orbach said. ``It's social engineering to take advantage of our baser instincts.''

Both Trilling and Orbach suggested that corporate network administrators block incoming program attachments, since it seems that computer users will continue to click on suspicious attachments, no matter how many times they're stung.

``Very few people have a legitimate reason to receive executable files in e-mail,'' Orbach said. ``Haven't people learned?''