Los Angeles – Researchers have determined that the apparent goal of the new Belittler computer worm, believed to have infected hundreds of thousands of computers in the U.S. alone, is to access the personal data on a user’s computer and then make fun of that data, and the user who owns it.
Dr. Edward Mukley of UCLA’s Department of Electronic Information Studies said an infected user in Oklahoma booted up his computer to find a message awaiting him in large, bold letters. The message read, “I found a screenplay in your ‘Personal Writing’ folder. Unfortunately it’s a rehash of every Woody Allen film ever made. Don’t quit your day job.”
In another case, the worm told a user in New York that he “had the lamest Firefox bookmarks this virus has ever seen. Seriously, ‘People.com?’ Come on, dude.”
“Many worms want to alter or delete your personal data, or else take over your computer itself and use it as a kind of host,” said Dr. Mulkey. “This virus doesn’t want to do either of those things. It just wants to make fun of it, make fun of you. It wants you to feel terrible about the stuff on your computer. And it’s pretty successful.”
Mukley points out that according to his department’s findings this far, users needn’t be alarmed or feel the need to take any immediate preventive action, unless they are unable to handle the written insults that may appear on their computer screens.
“It’s not like your stuff is going to go away, or be corrupted, at least as far as we can tell,” Mukley said. “You just may have to deal with a message that you’re really stupid or you have terrible taste in music or something like that.”
The insults, however, can be harsh. According to Elaine Strapaldi, an infected computer user in New Jersey, the virus left her a message saying, “Your family pictures in your Photos folder reveal your family is not what one would call attractive. You probably already know this.”
“And I just thought, ‘What a rude virus,'” said Mrs. Strapaldi.