China downloaders warned of "Lust, Caution" virus

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BEIJING, Nov 19 (Reuters) A Chinese anti-virus company has warned against free downloads of Ang Lee's steamy spy thriller, ''Lust, Caution'', saying several hundred sites offering the service were embedded with viruses.

The movie has been a big hit in China, reaping 12.12 million dollar in its first two weeks, despite losing seven minutes to the censors, and has been tipped by some to be the year's biggest box office success.

''People should be wary of Web sites that offer free downloading services because their personal passwords can be stolen,'' Li Ting, of Rising International Software Co. Ltd., told Reuters.

She said several hundred Web sites promoting ''Lust, Caution'' were embedded with viruses and 15 percent of download links were contaminated.

''Hackers are taking advantage of popular entertainment hotspots for movies and music to attack personal computers and spread viruses,'' she said.

An engineer with the compnay was first to encounter the virus last week -- his screen went blank and he lost his instant messaging password.

Set in World War Two Shanghai, ''Lust, Caution,'' features long and sometimes violent sex scenes that director Lee has hinted were real.

Lee, who won the top award at the Venice Film Festival in 2005 for his controversial gay cowboy drama ''Brokeback Mountain'', won the best picture award for ''Lust, Caution'' at this year's Festival.

REUTERS SKB SSC1228

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