LONDON, JULY 24. There is a new computer virus on the prowl and it has been playing hell with people's privacy across Europe. Like the dreaded Love Bug, which caused such havoc with computer systems around the world, this also comes with an e-mail attachment and once the genie is out of the bottle there is no protection against it.
Sircam does two things when it lets itself into the system:
first it forwards itself to every name on the user's address book
and, more embarrassingly, attacks the computer's
Documents folder. It picks up a file at random and sends it
hurtling through the worldwide web along with the infected
mail. People have been shocked and embarrassed to see their most
private communications exposed to the world.
Confidential commercial files such as client lists or new product
information could be sent around the world in seconds as could more
revealing personal documents such as job applications or private
letters, The Guardian reported today describing it as a
nasty strain. It said the virus originated in Latin America.
As many as 4,000 cases had been reported in the past 24 hours
prompting experts to warn users of its security implications.
virus could pick any file that is in there, and if it picks something
questionable the user could be seriously embarrassed, one expert
told a newspaper. He said his scanning service had intercepted several
thousand infected mails over the past week.
Sircam is said to
be more sophisticated than previous viruses and therefore more
difficult to combat. The Guardian said it had been able to
thrive because of its unique design and behaviour.
does not always put the same message in the e- mail subject
line. Instead it puts the name of whichever file it has raided from
the My Documents folder. The message, however, always starts and
ends with identical lines, either in English or Spanish. It starts
Hi, how are you? and ends with
See you later,
Users have been warned that the virus also invades the web cache which
stores the websites they have visited and forwards itself to the
addresses on that site. A number of sports and news sites are reported
to have been flooded with unwanted mails set off by
Sircam. Mobile phone addicts, meanwhile, are having to put up
with another sort of nuisance. The Times reported people getting an
anonymous textmessage telling them to
call urgently at a number
which is constantly engaged. The recipient of the message is often in
panic as he or she ponders over the
dreadful possibilities: has
there been an accident involving family member? has someone fallen
The mystery behind the emergency message, however, is a con
It's a moneymaking scam by an unscrupulous outfit who,
armed with a premium rate number and a list of mobile phone numbers,
have been making up to £ 1.50 a minute from the calls.
The scheme works because the call is put through to a recording of an engaged tone rather than the real thing meaning that the victim pays each time the number is dialled, the newspaper said. The body which regulates premium rate calls (users pay higher rates for certain privileges) has launched an investigation.