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Virus Launches Attack on MSN Messenger

Security experts have found a virus that targets users of 'MSN Messenger' in order to steal their personal and banking information. The virus, called "Heartworm" deceives the users to click on a link that directs to a website. As per FaceTime Communications' announcement on September 22, 2006, the website redirects the users to view a link comprising such words as "virtual card waiting for you".

The miscreants have cunningly tied this attack into multiple Web hoaxes, possibly to mislead affected users seeking help online. The deceptive trick opens up an image of a heart taken from a site that relates to handling Internet hoaxes. Besides, it seems to derive the name of the attack from another online hoax - "a virtual card for you", which has been in circulation since 2000. However, the virus 'Heartworm' does provide a virtual card, but added with a foul 'bonus', said Chris Boyd of FaceTime.

A file present on web hosting services' websites in Russia has proliferated the virus infection. The file, which claims to provide a 'virtual card' spreads infection when executed. It shows a picture of heart with a Portuguese poem upon execution. Then, the virus passes on the infectious link to the members of the user's contact list with the title phrase & link.

This hoax is a type of cultural disguise, which is called "hoax cloaking". It acts defensively by adopting the very traditions, myths and cultures of the Internet to work as self-preservation and cloaking technique. People who are using reliable search engines to validate the message will see reputed security companies and hoax-deflating sites verifying it as a lore and ignore it as harmless.
The 'heartworm' and similar viruses are variants of Trojan that steal bank data and are presently more prevalent in Brazil. They resemble worm 'MW.Orc' that earlier infected 'Orkut', a 'social networking portal website' of Google.

The W32.heartworm poses risk for users of 'MSN Messenger' and 'Windows Live Messenger' and can infect more than 256 million users. Security experts therefore advise PC owners to deploy good anti-virus software with routine updates on their systems.

Related article: Virus Infects Through USB Drives

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