Valentine's Day is for cards, flowers and a lot of spam

It's Valentine's Day this Saturday and the security vendors have decided to mark it by warning computer users about Valentine-themed spam and security threats.

Symantec said the top 20 Valentine's Day spam subject lines had moved towards the erotic this year, as well as the best Valentine's gifts such as nice watches or shopping sprees. It said to be wary about any emails from persons unknown which had "love" in the title - probably good advice anytime of year.

McAfee, Websense and Marshal were the next to warn about the rise in Valentine spam designed to trick internet users by posing as Valentine games and email greetings.

They discovered that some of the current wave of Valentine spam contained URLs carrying the Waledec Trojan, which contained techniques and features very similar to the Storm botnet.

MessageLabs said the majority of spam was coming from the Cutwail botnet.

Cutwail's campaign consisted of simple email messages with Valentine-related subject lines such as "Make this Valentine's Day the most memorable ever". They could also carry messages in the body containing links to a Chinese website touting male enhancement products.

Paul Wood, security analyst for MessageLabs, said that Cutwail loved the romantic time of year, with one in every fifteen spam emails being a Valentine's message from the botnet.

He said: "Dedicating approximately 90 per cent of its output to Valentine-related spam, Cutwail is generating an estimated seven billion spam emails each day. This is possibly the largest volume of Valentine's Day spam ever seen."

It's probably no surprise to find out that 82 per cent of system administrators say greeting cards electronic greeting cards are putting computer security at risk. Of course the experts are well aware of the risks, but the message has to be passed down to users.

Sophos warned employees that instead of getting carried away with trying to find out about their secret admirers, they should know that criminals are likely to be trying to exploit the fun and romance of Valentine's Day.

Sophos also offered a tongue-in-cheek video guide on how to avoid spam this Valentine's Day.

Sexist public information film about Valentine eCards in the office

Sophos Labs