Break the Chain A Little Innocent Love Letter Leads to Unwanted Children

Exclusive (5/9/2000) By now, you've probably heard about the highly publicized "ILOVEYOU" virus that attacked computers and e-mail systems the world over. This type of event puts Break the Chain on full alert status because media attention for a major real virus typically leads to a new outbreak of hoaxes spread by well-meaning users that got spooked, or by malicious pranksters who want to cash in on the media circus. But we weren't prepared for what we did find.

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As is usually the case with widespread viruses, several "copycat" bugs have surfaced in the wake of the "ILOVEYOU" worm. Most of them are simply re-worked copies of the love bug. What bothers us is that some have been altered to actually look like virus warnings or virus fixes. Here are some of the subject line these "labors of 'love'" have taken on:

  • ILOVEYOU
  • Susitikim shi vakara kavos puodukui...
  • fwd: JOKE
  • Mothers Day Order Confirmation
  • Dangerous Virus Warning
  • Virus ALERT!!!
  • Important! Read carefully!!
  • How to protect yourself from the ILOVEYOU bug!
  • I Cant Believe This!!!
  • Thank You For Flying With Arab Airlines

These messages will contain an attached file that, if executed, will run a program called a "worm" that, among other things will go into your computer, change some settings, changes some files, and (and this is the most damaging part) sends itself out to everyone in your e-mail address book. This flood of thousands of e-mails clogs corporate e-mail servers, causing them to crash, thus getting the attention of the media.

In the few years that we have been fighting the spread of e-mail hoaxes, there is one thing we know for sure: People will open files that claim to be a virus warning without hesitation. We have long advocated that forward messages warning people about some possible danger are a waste of bandwidth at best, and more damaging than the actual danger itself at worst. In this case, it's the latter.

Relying on e-mail warnings to protect yourself from viruses spread by e-mail is sort of like checking for gas leaks by lighting a match - sooner or later you WILL get burned!

So, we will say it again: Do not forward e-mail warnings to everyone you know. And, in light of the virus creators' recent move to disguise their bugs as warnings or fixes, it's probably just best to delete them without reading them. Encourage your friends to do the same.

If you really want to protect yourself from viruses, get a good virus protection program and check their web sites frequently for updated virus definitions. You can get a good virus checker for free from Computer Associates here.

What Do You Think?

Category: Virus Warning
References: None

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