Lawyers for sportscaster Erin Andrews have vowed to find and prosecute the peeping tom who surreptitiously videotaped the naked ESPN reporter through a hole in a hotel room wall and posted the video on the Internet.
Searches for the video, posted online to numerous sites including YouTube but seemingly taken down over the weekend, topped Google's list of most searched items this morning. Many of the searchers were looking for cached versions of the removed clip, but were instead exposed to viral malware programs – a common occurrence for widely searched Internet content.
Andrews, 31, a statuesque blonde who joined the network in 2004, has legions of fans around the sports blogosphere, contributing to the rapid and rabid interest in the video.
"While alone in the privacy of her hotel room, Erin Andrews was surreptitiously videotaped without her knowledge or consent. She was the victim of a crime and is taking action to protect herself and help ensure that others are not similarly violated in the future," her lawyer, Marshall B. Grossman said in a statement.
According to Grossman, the filmmaker remains unknown. A spokesman for ESPN would not confirm whether investigators have any leads regarding where the video was shot or who might be responsible.
"Although the perpetrator or perpetrators of this criminal act have not yet been identified, when they are identified she intends to bring both civil and criminal charges against them and against anyone who has published the material. We request respect of Erin's privacy at this time, while she and her representatives are working with the authorities," said Grossman.
The video purportedly shows Andrews changing clothes in an unknown hotel room, unaware that she is being filmed.
It is unclear if the video was shot through a specially-made hole in a wall or door, or through the hotel door's peephole.
A cached clip found by ABC News, but of unconfirmed authenticity, shows grainy images of a naked woman whom the camera seems to be following, indicating the camera may be hand held.
Erin Andrews Video Accompanied by Malware
A spokesman for ESPN, which like ABC News is owned by the Walt Disney Company, said Andrews was the victim of an "abhorrent act."
"Erin has been grievously wronged here. Our people and resources are in full support of her as she deals with this abhorrent act," said ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz.
The video has also gone viral in another way. Playing into the clip's overnight interest, hackers have embedded dangerous software into links pretending to be the video, infecting hundreds of computers.
"This sort of thing is not uncommon. Malware is often found on hot trend results," said Gary Warner, director of research in computer forensics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Once it infects your computer, malware can pose a host of problems for users, including allowing others to steal personal or financial information or ruining the computer's hard drive. According to Warner the primary means of spreading malware is through Twitter.
"It's Twitter that's spreading it," said Warner. "There are many live sites with the malware," he said including one he found that was disguised to look like YouTube.
"The tiny urls on Twitter are dangerous because you don't know where that anonymous link is going to take you. Normally you would only follow links from friends, but given the popularity of the video, people are searching even the word 'peephole' on Twitter and following anonymous links," he said.