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Zeta-Jones virus says Hello!
17:46 Thursday 13th February 2003
Will Sturgeon, silicon.com 

While Catherine Zeta-Jones is embroiled in a high-profile courtroom battle, a virus bearing her name is making its way around the Web

The popularity of media favorite Catherine Zeta-Jones has led to the Welsh actress being used as a hook to tempt users into launching a virus on their PCs.

Anti-virus firm Sophos has detected a virus hidden in a file that offers recipients some smutty pictures of Mrs. Michael Douglas.

Although the firm says customers have reported instances of the virus in the wild there are no known cases of infection. Users at risk are those using file-sharing service Kazaa and internet relay chat (IRC) instant messaging through which the virus can travel.

The use of the actress, currently enjoying unprecedented media coverage on the back of awards nominations and a high-profile court case against Hello! magazine, follows the growing trend towards social engineering on the part of virus writers.

Typically such files, generally spread via email, purport to contain pictures of attractive females -- with the likes of Latino lovely Shakira, Russian tennis ace Anna Kournikova and US singer Jennifer Lopez all being used to disseminate malware in the past.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: "It is ironic that supposed photos of Catherine Zeta Jones are being used to try to spread a virus at the same time that she's in the courts fighting Hello! magazine over the publication of unauthorised snaps.

"We all know the saying that curiosity killed the cat. In this case the curious user looking for dirty pictures of celebrities is likely to be one who is compromised."

As ever, Sophos advises users to be careful when opening any files from unknown sources. The golden rule is that if you can't vouch for the source and the contents of the file then don't risk opening it.

For all security-related news, including updates on the latest viruses, hacking exploits and patches, check out ZDNet UK's Security News Section.

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