Engagement rings, roses and chocolates are often associated with Valentines Day, but computer users are now receiving viruses and email spam. Major anti-vendors like Symantec and Panda are reporting several new email-based viruses and Trojan horses that masquerade as romantic messages. Sophos, another anti-virus vendor, says inboxes are being flooded with picture-laden email spam.
The Valentine’s Day viruses and Trojan horses hide inside of emails with provocative subject lines like "Together You and I" and "Til the End of Time". People are encouraged to open the attached file postcard.exe that then infects the computer. Panda Software is advising its users to be extremely wary of such attachments.
Sophos found that the number of emails, with mainly pictures, grew by more than 100% in 2006 and says marketers target both Valentine’s Day and Christmas with the most spam. Spammers have turned to images to get past tougher text-based anti-spam filters and Ron O’Brien, Sophos’s senior security analyst, says, "Not only is it better able to bypass anti-spam filters, but its visual appeal makes it more likely to be opened."
While image-based spam is on the rise, most consumers don’t seem to be taking the bait and buying the products. According to a survey done by Sophos, just five percent of computer users said they purchased merchandise through the spam emails.