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New computer virus generates fake social media buzz

There’s a new internet crime sensation that is sweeping the nation. That description is more accurate than you may think. Many people may not know what the “Zeus” computer virus is, but you’ve likely encountered something like it before — or you likely know someone who has. The Zeus virus is a common computer virus that steals credit card data. Obviously, this is not a good thing. However, someone has modified the Zeus virus and created a new bug that may seem “harmless.” The modified Zeus virus generates fake “likes” and “friends” on social media websites. You may be wondering “why would anyone want to do that?” For marketing purposes, these falsified symbols of popularity and importance can be a gold mine for marketers, companies and even individuals looking to further their careers. In fact, some people are even saying that this fake likes are many times more valuable than credit card data — because the intended impact is this perceived buzz makes people go out and spend money. What’s interesting about this is the divergent receptions these two viruses — the original Zeus, and the modified one — have generated. The original Zeus is seen as evil, something that warrants extensive punishment for the user; whereas the modified Zeus has more of a quirky vibe to it, something that is bad, yes, but not too bad. Why should one be held to a stricter standard than the other? There are people who are accused of internet crimes who had no intent of being diabolical criminals. Instead, they are subjected to serious penalties, and their lives are never the same. In order to reduce the significance of these penalties, people accused of internet crimes need to secure an experienced attorney. Source: Reuters, “Virus targets the social network in new fraud twist,” Jim Finkle, Aug. 16, 2013

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