Anna Kournikova Virus

Definition of Anna Kournikova Virus

The Anna Kournikova Virus, also known as VBS/SST or VBS/OnTheFly, is a computer worm that was designed to spread through email systems in 2001. The virus is named after the famous tennis player, as it was disguised as a picture of her in the attachment, which when opened, infected the user’s system and forwarded itself to the victim’s email contacts. The virus did not cause significant damage to infected systems, but it significantly impacted worldwide email traffic.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Anna Kournikova Virus” is ænə kʊrˈnɪkəvə ˈvaɪrəs.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Anna Kournikova Virus was a self-replicating email worm that posed as a digital image of the famous tennis player, launching in 2001.
  2. This virus was not destructive to infected systems, but caused widespread email outages due to overloading mail servers with massive replication attempts.
  3. The worm was created using a visual programming tool for creating viruses, highlighting the need for increased email security and public awareness of such threats.

Importance of Anna Kournikova Virus

The Anna Kournikova Virus is significant in the history of technology and cybersecurity due to its widespread impact and the unique social engineering tactics it employed. Named after the famous tennis player, this computer worm spread rapidly via email in February 2001, causing considerable disruption and damage.

The virus masqueraded as an email attachment supposedly containing images of Anna Kournikova, enticing users to open it. Once opened, it utilized a Visual Basic script to propagate itself by sending itself to all email contacts in the user’s address book.

Not only did this cause a large volume of unwanted email traffic, but it also exposed the vulnerabilities of systems and email clients in the face of social engineering attacks. This virus served as an eye-opening event that led to significant advancements in cybersecurity measures to prevent such attacks in the future.


The Anna Kournikova Virus, also known as the VBS/SST worm, was a notorious email-based cyber threat that gained prominence in early 2001. Unlike many other malware prevalent during that time, the primary purpose of this virus was not to cause financial harm or steal sensitive information.

Rather, its main objective was to showcase the ease of exploiting human curiosity and the vulnerabilities in popular email systems. Specifically, the Anna Kournikova Virus exemplified the power of social engineering, which relies on manipulating individuals into performing actions that compromise their digital security.

The virus propagated through email, enticing victims by including a subject line that referenced Anna Kournikova, a famous Russian tennis player at the time. Unsuspecting recipients would be prompted to open the purported image attachment, expecting to view a photograph of Anna.

However, upon opening the attachment, the virus would execute a Visual Basic Script, causing it to infiltrate the user’s contacts and spread itself further by sending email messages to all of them. While the virus didn’t inflict any direct harm to the infected systems, it served as a stark reminder of the risks of opening unknown attachments and the efficiency of social engineering in bypassing even the most robust cybersecurity measures.

Examples of Anna Kournikova Virus

Spread through email attachments: The Anna Kournikova virus, which emerged in February 2001, primarily spread through email attachments. The subject of the email read, “Here you have, ;0)” and included a disguised attachment named “AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs”. When unsuspecting users opened the attachment, it triggered the virus and automatically forwarded itself to all contacts in the victim’s address book. This widespread distribution led to a rapid propagation of the virus across the globe.

Social engineering used for virus dissemination: One key element of the Anna Kournikova virus’ success was the use of social engineering tactics. The creators relied on the popularity of Anna Kournikova, a Russian tennis player at the time, to entice users to open the email attachment. This exploitation of human curiosity serves as an example of how social engineering can be a driving force behind the spread of malware.

The impact of the virus on businesses and organizations: The Anna Kournikova virus had a significant effect on companies and organizations worldwide, causing IT infrastructure disruptions, loss of productivity, and financial damage. For example, the virus affected email systems at organizations like the Australian Parliament House and the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office. The widespread impact of the virus demonstrated the potential vulnerability of businesses and organizations to cyber attacks and the importance of developing effective cybersecurity strategies.

Anna Kournikova Virus FAQ

1. What is the Anna Kournikova Virus?

The Anna Kournikova Virus is a computer worm that spread through email in 2001. It was designed to trick recipients into opening an email attachment by appearing to contain photographs of the famous tennis player Anna Kournikova. Once opened, the worm would infect the victim’s computer and automatically forward itself to everyone in the infected user’s email address book.

2. How did the Anna Kournikova Virus spread?

The virus predominantly spread using the Visual Basic Scripting (VBS) language and targeted Microsoft Outlook email clients. Upon opening the infected attachment, the virus would use Outlook to send copies of itself to all email addresses found in the victim’s address book, thereby expanding rapidly to other users.

3. What kind of damage did the Anna Kournikova Virus cause?

While the Anna Kournikova Virus had the potential to cause significant disruption to email servers and networks due to the high volume of infected messages, it did not have a destructive payload like some other viruses. Its primary intent was to propagate itself, not to delete files or damage computer systems. However, it caused significant inconvenience for users and IT professionals who had to deal with the massive influx of infected messages.

4. How can I protect my computer from viruses like the Anna Kournikova Virus?

To protect your computer from viruses, it’s essential to have up-to-date antivirus software installed and to maintain a cautious approach to clicking on email attachments and links. Regularly update your operating system, software, and email client to patch security vulnerabilities. Additionally, be wary of unsolicited emails, even if they appear to be from someone you know, and always verify with the sender if you are uncertain about the content of an email.

5. Have there been other similar viruses since the Anna Kournikova Virus?

Yes, there have been numerous instances of email worms and viruses that use social engineering tactics to trick users into opening infected attachments or clicking on malicious links. Many of these threats use current news stories, pop culture, or well-known personalities to entice the user into engaging with the content. Staying informed about the latest virus threats and practicing safe browsing and email habits can help protect your computer and personal information from these risks.

Related Technology Terms

  • Email Worm
  • Visual Basic Script (VBS)
  • Malware
  • Computer Security
  • Anti-virus Software

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