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Tech Time WarpIt sounds so innocent: An email appears in your inbox, subject line “Pikachu Pokemon.” The message speaks of friendship and invites you to visit Pikachu on his website. And the attachment (warning bells going off yet?) features an animation of a bouncing Pikachu.

As children discovered during summer 2000, Pikachu is not always your friend.

First detected in June 2000, the Pikachu Pokemon or “Pokey” virus was one of the first malware attacks to target children. Similar to the ILOVEYOU virus, which caught adult users in its trap earlier that year, the Pikachu virus spread via Microsoft Outlook. The attached executable made changes to configuration files, destroying Windows directories. Luckily, users running up-to-date antivirus software received a warning before the deletion of important files.

Pikachu virus targets new generation of Pokemon lovers

This wasn’t the only time Pokemon was exploited by the nefarious. During the 2016 Pokemon Go craze, phishing emails asked users to fork over $12.99 per month for a paid edition of the game, warning them that the free game was about to be discontinued. (It wasn’t.) When users clicked through, they were asked to hand over their email credentials.

Scammers also targeted Europeans eager to play Pokemon Go before the game’s continental rollout. Anxious players turned to third-party app stores—where the game they downloaded had the ability to take over their phones.

The moral of the story is, of course, that parents, children, and the fun-loving childless need to proceed with caution. Think before you click, y’all.

Photo: Jordan Bajc via Used under CC 2.0 License

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Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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