The SMARTGRRL15 virus hoax lives again

Filed Under: Facebook, Malware, Social networks

Users are posting warnings to each other across social networks, email and instant messaging systems to avoid a user called "SMARTGRRL15".

Unfortunately the alerts are not based on facts, and members of the public are unwittingly perpetuating a hoax in the belief that they are helping their friends, family and online chums avoid a nasty virus infection.

A warning about SMARTGRRL15 posted on Facebook

A typical message reads as follows:

DO NOT ADD HER!!! IF SOMEBODY CALLED SMARTGRRL15 ADDS YOU, DONT ACCEPT IT...IT IS A VIRUS. TELL EVERYBODY, BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON UR LIST ADDS THEM, U GET THE VIRUS TOO. COPY AND PASTE AND PLEASE REPOST

The reality is that this is a long-standing hoax, kept alive by well-intentioned individuals who think they're doing others a favour by posting or forwarding the warning so other users can read it. It's just the latest example of the many hoaxes we have seen spreading over the internet for some years.

And, surprise surprise, the SMARTGRRL15 hoax has actually been around for some time. For instance, here's an example I found of a warning about SMARTGRRL15 posted on MySpace back in 2006:

A warning about SMARTGRRL15 posted on MySpace in 2006

Things have been confused slightly in some of the most recent warnings about SMARTGRRL15, however, as mention of the (genuine) Koobface worm has been added to the mix:

THERE IS A VIRUS SPREADING LIKE WILDFIRE ON FB. IT IS A TROJAN WORM VIRUS CALLED KOOBFACE. IT WILL STEAL INFO, INFEST YOUR SYSTEM AND SHUT IT DOWN. DO NOT OPEN THE LINK (BARACK OBAMA CLINTON SCANDAL) FACEBOOK USERS DO NOT ADD HER!!! IF SOMEBODY CALLED SMARTGRRL15, ADDS YOU, DONT ACCEPT IT...IT IS A VIRUS. IF SOMEBODY ON UR LIST ADDS THEM, U GET THE VIRUS TOO. COPY AND PASTE AND PLEASE REPOST.

Yes, the Koobface worm is a reality - and it is possible for malware authors to hide their attacks using disguises like a sex video claiming to feature Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But it's a mistake to think this is somehow connected with a userid called SMARTGRRL15, and - if you have any sense - you'd think twice before clicking on any unsolicited links which claim to point to a Clinton / Obama sex video anyway.

Remember to always get your computer security advice from a computer security company. Friends may be well-intentioned in passing on warnings, but it's always good to check your facts before forwarding them any further.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.