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Issue 13 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 13: March 2nd, 2004

This week in Hoax-Slayer:
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Hoax-Slayer is a Free Monthly Web-Based Newsletter brought to you by Brett Christensen

The Hoax-Slayer Newsletter keeps you informed about the latest email hoaxes and current Internet scams. Hoax-Slayer also features anti-spam tips, computer security information, pertinent articles and more.

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Disabling the "Send Error" messages in Windows XP

I'm quite new to XP but I really like it so far. One thing that I found a tad annoying is that when an application crashes, you get this request to send an error report to Microsoft. I think there is a potential security risk in sending these reports because the information sent can include part of the document you were working on when the program crashed. Besides, Windows XP tries to "phone home" enough as it is without sending extra information every time some app goes belly up. (MS must get a lot of error reports).

Granted, this security risk is probably quite small. Also, sending an error report may actually help Microsoft to produce more stable software in the future. That said, I value my privacy so I turned off error reporting via the following:

1. Open the Control Panel.

2. Click on "Performance and Maintenance".

3. Click on "System".

4. Click on the tab labelled "Advanced".

5. Click on the button labelled "Error Reporting" which is located at the bottom right of the System Properties dialog.

6. Select the item labelled "Disable error reporting". It would be best to leave a tick in the check box that says "But notify me when critical errors occur".

7. Click "OK" twice to exit out of the dialogs.

Another way to access the System Properties dialog, is to right-click "My Computer" and select "Properties".

You should not be asked to send error reports to Microsoft anymore, but you will still receive an error message that might help with troubleshooting.


Oil Company Boycott Email

The rather tired piece of email activism included below seems to enjoy a resurgence and go the rounds of the world's inboxes at least once a year. There are several versions of the email, that all contain essentially the same message. At face value, the idea might sound plausible. However, there are some fatal flaws in the message. The price of gas at the pump is *not* exclusively controlled by oil companies, not even EXXON and MOBIL. Certainly, oil companies do have some control over the price of fuel but oil prices are subject to powerful economic factors and the intricate complexities of supply and demand. In any case, the big oil companies do not only supply gas to their own stations. They are likely to have a variety of markets for their products, including independent service stations. A more likely outcome of a large-scale consumer boycott of certain oil companies in favour of others is that gas prices will actually increase. That is, the oil companies that benefit from the boycott are likely to raise prices to reflect increased demand.

Furthermore, the author of the email seriously overestimates the potential "reach" of the message. Not everybody who receives it is going to pass it on to ten people. Many will forward it to a lot less than ten people. Many will forward it directly to the trash bin (good move!). Many emails that are sent will bounce or simply go unread. Reaching 300 million people in 8 days is simply unrealistic. Then again, so is the entire idea.

Probably the most compelling piece of evidence pointing to the failure of this "campaign" is the fact that it keeps resurfacing for another futile run. It obviously has not worked in the past, nor would I expect it to in the future.

Subject: Join the resistance!

I hear we are going to hit close to $3.00 a gallon by the summer. Want gasoline prices to come down? We need to take some intelligent, united action. Phillip Hollsworth, offered this good idea: This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas on a certain day" campaign that was going around last April or May! The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by refusing to buy gas.

It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. BUT, whoever thought of this idea, has come up with a plan that can really work.

Please read it and join with us!

By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $1.50 is super cheap. Me too! It is currently $1.97 for regular unleaded in my town. Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost! of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at $1.50- $1.75, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace....not sellers. With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take action. The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas!

And we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. How? Since we all relyon our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.

Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL.

If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers. It's really simple to do!! Now, don't wimp out on me at this point...keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

I am sending this note to about thirty people. If each of you send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300) ... and those 300 send it to atleast ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000)...and so on, by the time the messagereaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers! If those three million get excited and ! pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted! If it goes one level further, you guessed it..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!

Again, all You have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all. (If you don't understand how we can reach 300 million and all you have to do is send this to 10 people... Well, let's face it, you just aren't a mathematician. But I am ... so trust me on this one.)

How long would all that take? If each of us sends this e-mail outto ten more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next 8 days!!! I'll bet you didn't think you and I had that much potential, did you! Acting together we canmake a difference.

If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on. PLEASE HOLD OUT UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $1.30 RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK.


Elf Bowling Virus Hoax

This aging "virus warning" crossed my inbox this week. Although the games mentioned in the email are real, they do not contain viruses. Symantec Security Response has confirmed this.

Symantec has more information about the hoax on its website.



Virus: W32.Beagle.C@mm

This variant of Beagle is a mass mailing worm that uses its own SMTP engine to spread itself. It can open a back door on TCP port 2745.

The email carrying the worm has the following characteristics:

The from address is spoofed.

Subject: (one of the following)

Accounts department
Daily activity report
Flayers among us
Freedom for everyone
From Hair-cutter
From me
Greet the day
Hardware devices price-list
Hello my friend
Looking for the report
Monthly incomings summary
New Price-list
Price list
Proclivity to servitude
Registration confirmation
The account
The employee The summary
USA government abolishes the capital punishment
Weekly activity report
You are dismissed
You really love me? he he

Attachment Name:
Random with a .exe extension

Symantec has more information about the virus on its Security Response page.


Spam Tip: Disguise your email address online

Spammers can harvest email addresses from websites using small, specialized programs known as "spambots". However, you can fool these little programs by disguising your email address when you need to put it online, for example in web-forums, guestbooks or newsgroup postings.

For example, I could disguise my email address thus:

A human reader will still be able to send me email by removing the words REMOVE and THIS. However, the spambot isn't that smart, and will just add the complete (and invalid) address to the spammers list.

You could also do something like:
(Remove "FIGHT-SPAM" before using)


Budweiser Frogs Virus Hoax

This virus hoax and I go back a ways. I remember receiving this email back in 2000 when I was still a total computer newbie. I dutifully emailed it off to all the people in my address book. A kind email acquaintance gently replied with the news that I'd fallen for a hoax email. In fact it was this experience that piqued my interest in email hoaxes to begin with. If you believe in the "connectedness of all things", then the Budweiser Frogs hoax is the catalyst that resulted in me typing this newsletter on a warm March morning 4 years on. Well, that's enough navel-gazing for one issue (grin).

In any case, this is one of the hoaxes that have withstood the test of time. Although it began circulation back in 1999, it still regularly hits inboxes. There is not, nor has there ever been, a virus like the one described in the email.

Someone is sending out a very cute screensaver of the Budweiser Frogs. If you download it, you will lose everything! Your hard drive will crash and someone from the Internet will get your screen name and password! DO NOT DOWNLOAD IT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! It just went into circulation yesterday. Please distribute this message.This is a new, very malicious virus and not many people know about it. This information was announced yesterday morning from Microsoft. Please share it with everyone that might access the Internet.

Once again, Pass This Along To EVERYONE in your address book so that this may be stopped. AOL has said that this is a very dangerous virus and that there is NO remedy for it at this time.


Humour: Legal Disclaimers

The following was posted to an online forum I visit:)

Legal disclaimers and warnings are often important, because they point out things that may not be immediately obvious, limiting legal liability for mishaps. But, some statements really make you wonder...


On a helmet mounted mirror used by US cyclists - REMEMBER, OBJECTS IN THE MIRROR ARE ACTUALLY BEHIND YOU.


On the bottle-top of a (UK) flavored milk drink AFTER OPENING, KEEP UPRIGHT.

On a New Zealand insect spray - THIS PRODUCT NOT TESTED on ANIMALS.

In a US guide to setting up a new computer - TO AVOID CONDENSATION FORMING, ALLOW THE BOXES TO WARM UP TO ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE OPENING. (Sensible, but the instruction was INSIDE the box.)

In some countries, on the bottom of Coke bottles - OPEN OTHER END.


On a Sears hairdryer - DO NOT USE WHILE SLEEPING.

On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding - PRODUCT WILL BE HOT AFTER HEATING.

On a Japanese food processor - NOT TO BE USED FOR THE OTHER USE.


The Hoax_Slayer Newsletter is published by:
Brett M.Christensen
Queensland, Australia
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©Brett M. Christensen, 2009
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