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  ‘Second Life’ Virus Defies Containment  
Posted 2005-10-31 by Tony Walsh
"Red Wings" is back, carrying with it a humiliating, vengeful photo of a sexual nature. This virtual virus was last seen in late 2004, spreading to various residents of the Second Life cyberspace. At the time, it was believed that Linden Lab, the creators and custodians of Second Life had successfully contained the outbreak, however today's appearance by the malicious software scourge indicates either the contrary is true, or that this is a new deployment of the old virus. According to one virtual-world resident, an object named Red Angel Wings, identified by the Second Life client software as originating from an "unknown user," was responsible for giving out a photo of a male masturbator to a small group of bystanders. The image was displayed immediately upon dispensation to each resident, its caption reading "this is for revenge. please pass it on. shouldn't piss off someone who has nude pics of you." It seems that in Second Life neither virus nor masturbator can be kept down.
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Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
November 1, 2005 @ 12:59 am
I've had tenants plagued by this thing, and examined it, and I wonder if it really qualifies as a virus. That is, it's a thingie embedded in what seems like an innocent object, Angel Wings. If you buy the Angel Wings, and put them out on your lot, it suddenly pops-up this offensive picture. It's not something that automatically replicates. You have to buy the wings and put them out. I guess it's like a lot of email viruses with attachments with exe files. After awhile, you get so you never open any email with an exe file or from an unknown. In the same way, in SL, buying or taking free stuff is going to lead to this. I'm not sure how the Lindens could put a thing like this out of business, except by some kind of small-pox vaccination sort of operation, or just methodically removing that file from everyone's inventories (can they do that? is that a good thing for the federal government to be doing, reaching into everyone's inventory). It's a puzzle for me. But I guess I wouldn't confuse an outbreak of the Angel Wings again because of a new batch of newbies who hadn't heard not to take it as some kind of really threatening virus a la the grid-crasher from W-HAT the other day.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
November 1, 2005 @ 10:24 am
The Wings object is definitely virus-like, but might better be described more generally as "malicious software." It seems to be designed to seem innocuous, but propagate a photo--not that the photo is itself contagious. One way in which the Wings object spreads is by masquerading as a useful item. Same way as harmful email attachments (as you pointed out). I'm a bit surprised Linden Lab wasn't able to eradicate it after the first outbreak, but then I don't understand the inner workings of Second Life. I'm pretty sure that if LL revealed how they deal with harmful objects like this, the information would be used by griefers to circumvent LL's efforts.
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