SAN FRANCISCO – A fast-moving virus that targets misspelled words has deleted a majority of all the written content published on the World Wide Web, according to IT expert Kirk Tiesley.
“It hit blogs and forums the hardest,” said Tiesley, who has studied the virus and is working towards a patch. “It has an advanced algorithm that sifts through pages, ignoring names and colloquialisms. If more than two words in common usage are spelled incorrectly, it deletes the whole entry.”
The virus, identified as W32.spellcheck.doom, works by comparing web pages to lists of commonly misspelled words (including “misspelled”). After it deletes all connected text, it seeks out the author’s work elsewhere and replicates to the host sites.
“Spellcheck.doom is actually rather lenient in terms of computer viruses,” said Tiesley. “It spots you two strikes, so you could get by with a typo like ‘recieve’ and a mulligan like ‘calender’. But it’s absolutely savaging social networking sites and any forum that allows anonymous comments.”
Tiesley’s network security company, Securitrode, expects to offer a patch later this week. Until then, he advises writers to utilize the spell checker software available in most word processors.
“If you’re unsure how to spell a word, keep an eye out for those little red squiggly or dotted lines that indicate a possible misspelling,” said Tiesley. “Or maybe use a different word that you know you can spell.”