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Valentine's day protection advice from BitDefender

BitDefender UK : 12 February, 2009  (Technical Article)
With the traditional increase in computer virus infections expected on Valentine's day, BitDefender offers some advice on how not to become a victim
Virus writers are notorious for launching attacks around major holidays like Christmas, New Year's and Valentine's Day, warns BitDefender. The infamous Storm Worm struck million's of Internet users' systems in February 2008 with the lure of receiving a Valentine's Day gift. The e-mail message contained a Web link which directed users to a Web site where they could supposedly download a Valentine's card. Instead of receiving a card from a loved one, their system was infected with the Storm Worm and their personal information was stolen.

In order to prevent a similar system infection over Valentine's Day 2009, users should avoid opening emails with subject lines advertising Valentine's gifts, such as sexual enhancement pills and cheap replicas for jewelry, designer bags and watches. These emails can contain attachments or links to other sites that can infect a user's computer.

Such examples include e-mails with the subject line "I Love Being In Love With You." The e-mail contains a malicious link that will infect a user's computer with the Waledac Botnet when clicked. The Waledac bot operates in a similar manner as the Storm Worm. It infects new users via fake, malware-packed greeting cards.

Other Valentine's Day spam waves BitDefender Lab has detected include unsolicited messages from online pharmacies, adult websites, online casinos, and adult retailers.

"Valentine's Day in particular is an ideal opportunity for malware writers to trick unsuspecting users into opening attachments or clicking malicious links on e-mail messages with romantic subject lines," said BitDefender's head of antispam research, Vlad Valceanu, "Users need to be wary of the different URLs they click on during holiday seasons, as they will start to notice their inboxes increasingly being flooded with targeted spam during these periods."

Other tips for keeping your computer, and all of your personal information safe, no matter the time of year include:

- Do not open e-mails from unknown or distrusted sources. Many viruses spread via e-mail messages so ask for a confirmation from the sender if you are in any doubt.

- Do not open the attachments of messages with suspicious or unexpected subject lines. If you want to open them, first save them to your hard disk and scan them with an updated antivirus program.

- Delete any chain e-mails or unwanted messages. Do not forward them or reply to their senders. These kinds of messages are considered spam, because they are undesired and unsolicited and they can overload the Internet traffic.

- Update your system and applications as often as possible. Some operating systems and applications can be set to update automatically. Make full use of this facility. Failure to patch your system often enough may leave it vulnerable to threats for which fixes already exist.

- Do not copy any file if you don't know or don't trust its source. Check the source of files you download and make sure that an antivirus program has already verified the files at their source.

BitDefender also recommends (aside from not clicking spam links) the use of an integrated security solution, one that offers antivirus, antispam and a firewall, but also has advanced features like web filtering and identity protection.
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