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Hoax virus mails & spoof mass mailings

28/03/08

Hoax virus mails & spoof mass mailings

Permalink 10:43:55 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Articles

I keep getting a steady trickle of e-mails from well intentioned folk who think they are doing the community a service by forwarding a warning e-mail they received, to all in their address book. The warnings are usually along the lines of a virus is circulating the Internet so whatever you do, avoid opening any mail containing the words xxxxxx and send this on to anyone you know.

If you receive such a warning I suggest you ignore it. If you feel you must, reply to the sender (making sure not to include all in the CC list) informing them that they have probably been caught in a scam or hoax and they should read this blog post.

Let's suppose that I created a bogus story about a virus just released onto the Internet and forwarded it to 100 people in my address book (not an untypical number of contacts to hold), and half of those were suckered into following my desperate plea to thwart the evil doers and forward the warning to 100 people in their address book. Then in just two cycles, 100 + (50 * 100) = 5,100 people would have received the bogus mail.

Two minutes later half of those 5,100 recipients followed instructions and sent to 100 people in their address book. Now 230,100 people have received the junk mail. Next time round 11.5 million addresses have been spammed and already the mail servers are slowing down. It is apparent that within a very short time the Internet is becoming swamped by worthless words, congestion is increasing, disk space is filling, bandwidth is being wasted and everyone's performance is suffering.

Anyone who maintains a current anti-virus product and takes other sensible precautions such as

  • installing Windows security updates when they become available and
  • using a browser other than Internet Explorer and
  • not running programs e-mailed by strangers and
  • Following Eugene's housekeeping suggestions

will be protected from 99.9% of viruses already.

If you're tempted to spread the word, please check the bone fides of the story first by visiting sites such as

http://www.symantec.com/business/security_response/threatexplorer/risks/hoaxes.jsp
http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/internet/u/current_netlore.htm
http://tafkac.org/ulz/
http://www.hoax-slayer.com/
http://www.hoaxbuster.net/

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Trackback from: Livraison [Visitor]
your article was very interesting.Thank you.
21/10/09 @ 17:21
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