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Issue 15 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 15: March 16, 2004

This week in Hoax-Slayer:
Read Previous Issues


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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FTC warns of new Identity Theft Scam

Yet another phisher scam has been hitting inboxes. On March 11, 2004, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning to Internet users describing the new scam. The scam email claims that, due to changes in laws, recipients are required to identify themselves to the government in order to "create a secure and safer Internet community". A link in the email points to a bogus website. The fake site is designed to resemble an official regulation.gov site and attempts to trick site visitors into providing sensitive personal information. The emails arrive with the subject lines 'Official information' or 'Urgent information to all credit card holders!'

Of course, there is no law that requires Internet users to register at a Government website, nor does the regulations.gov site collect financial information from visitors.

You can read the full article about this scam on the FTC website.



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Congressional Pensions Chain Letter

Below is yet another example of misguided "email activism". This piece gets trundled out on a fairly regular basis, especially in times when the behaviour of politicians is "in the news" because of an up-coming election, for example.

Certainly politicians aren't shy about affording themselves generous pension benefits. Here in Australia, there has been a lot of debate, posturing, and vague promises recently regarding the disproportionaly large size of superannuation payments enjoyed by ex-pollies. US politicians can also end up with a very generous government pension.

However, there are significant inaccuracies in this protest email. Members of Congress do contribute and receive Social Security benefits. They do not "draw the same pay until they die". In fact, there are a variety of factors that impact on the size of their pension payments. Also, according to an article on Snopes.com the figures quoted for Senator Byrd and Congressman White "are simply outrageous amounts with no basis in reality".

As citizens of democracies we have the right to protest any unbridled nest-feathering among those whose job it is to serve us. However, sending a collection of half-truths and outright lies and asking for it to be forwarded to promote "awareness" is likely to be counter productive to say the least.

GET A BILL STARTED TO PLACE ALL POLITICIANS ON SOC. SEC.

2004 Election Issue!!

This must be an issue in "2004". Please! Keep it going.

SOCIAL SECURITY:

(This is worth reading. It is short and to the point.)

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during election years.

Our Senators and Congresswomen do not pay into Social Security and, of course, they do not collect from it.

You see, Social Security benefits were not suitable for persons of their rare elevation in society. They felt they should have a special plan for themselves. So, many years ago they voted in their own benefit plan.

In more recent years, no congress person has felt the need to change it. After all, it is a great plan.

For all practical purposes their plan works like this:

When they retire, they continue to draw the same pay until they die. Except it may increase from time to time for cost of living adjustments.

For example, former Senator Byrd and Congressman White and their wives may expect to draw $7,800,000.00 (that's Seven Million, Eight-Hundred Thousand Dollars), with their wives drawing $275,000.00 during the last years of their lives.

This is calculated on an average life span for each of those two Dignitaries.

Younger Dignitaries who retire at an early age, will receive much more during the rest of their lives.

Their cost for this excellent plan is $0.00. NADA....ZILCH....

This little perk they voted for themselves is free to them. You and I pick up the tab for this plan. The funds for this fine retirement plan come directly from the General Funds;

"OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK"!

From our own Social Security Plan, which you and I pay (or have paid) into, -every payday until we retire (which amount is matched by our employer)- we can expect to get an average of $1,000 per month after retirement.

Or, in other words, we would have to collect our average of $1,000 monthly benefits for 68 years and one (1) month to equal Senator Bill Bradley's benefits!

Social Security could be very good if only one small change were made.

That change would be to jerk the Golden Fleece Retirement Plan from under the Senators and Congressmen. Put them into the Social Security plan with the rest of us ... then sit back and watch how fast they would fix it.

If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe good changes will evolve.

How many people can YOU send this to?

Keep this going clear up thru the 2004




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Guts to Say Jesus Virus Hoax

The "Guts to say Jesus" virus hoax has been around for a long time. It is quite old by Internet standards, but is still actively circulating. The information in the email is completely false and should be ignored. There is no virus that has the characteristics outlined in this bogus email.

This hoax first made its appearance way back in 1998, and has become one of the most widely distributed of all email virus hoaxes. There are several variations of this hoax, all equally false.

Very  Urgent!!!!!!!...
PASS THIS ON TO ANYONE YOU HAVE AN E-MAIL ADDRESS FOR.

If you receive an email titled: "It Takes Guts to Say Jesus" DO NOT OPEN IT.

It will erase everything on your hard drive.!
This information was announced yesterday morning from IBM; AOL states that this is a very dangerous virus, much worse than "Melissa," and that there is NO Remedy for it at this time. Some verysick individual has Succeeded in using the reformat function from Norton Utilities causing it to completely erase all documents on the hard drive. It has been designed to work with Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. It destroys Macintosh and IBM compatible computers.

This is a new, very malicious virus and not many people know about it. Pass this warning along to EVERYONE in your address book and please share it with all your online! friends ASAP so that this threat maybe stopped. Please practice cautionary measures and tell anyone that! may have access to your computer. Forward this warning to everyone That you know that might access the Internet.






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Virus Information: W32.Cone.D@mm

W32.Cone.D@mm is yet another mass-mailing worm that searches for email addresses on the infected computer and sends itself using its own SMTP engine.

The email carrying the worm has the following characteristics:

FROM line:
(This will be spoofed)

Subject Line: (One of the following)
RE: the attachment is in the SKY [weN]
How cute is your credit card number!! :))
E-mail account disabling warning for %s
the attachment is in the SKY [weN]
Hi
i have your password :)
RE: Thank You!
RE: details (%s)
Password Reset For %s
Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender (%s)
about you
Your account (%s) will be closed
Your IP has been logged
Mail Delivery System (%s)
Mail Transaction Failed (%s)
IMPORTANT %s!
Confidential user information

Body: One of the following

i lucky,
The attachment is a virus do not open it. I write it to say : we don't want islamic republic in IRAN! I'm realy sorry, I'm damaging some computers that I don't want to damage!!!!

Dear user of (recipient name), We warn you about some attacks on your e-mail account. Your computer may contain viruses, in order to keep your computer and e-mail account safe, please, follow the instructions. The Management,

take it easy

I have your password :)

The zip archive attached.
extract it and then read the text file!
i zip your password (and some other info) :))
I have it too!
you can change it, but...!

Warning!!!
This message contains (attached) users personal info and you may not
use it for personal use,
remember that you accept the agreement, and you are responsible for any kind of misuse of the users personal
info.

i zip it for you.

i can't find anything usefull in your attachment.

See the attached file for details

your credit card information attached :))

do you can imagine?
a (random letters) in a zip file!

The message contains Unicode (Chinese) characters and has been sent as an attachment (in binary).

Details Attached.



Attachment Name:
This will a .exe file preceded by eight random letters or numbers. The worm may send a .zip file containing this executable.

Find out more about the worm.



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Security Software: Spyware Blaster

Anti-spyware programs like Ad-Aware and Spybot Search and Destroy do an excellent job of ridding your computer of spyware components. In fact, if your goal is to maintain a secure and stable computing environment, a good quality anti-spyware scanner is practically a must have.

Having said that, the majority of anti-spyware scanners provide a cure for spyware rather than offer prevention. Obviously, it would be more desirable to prevent the installation of spyware in the first place rather than get rid of it later. This is where an excellent freeware application called SpywareBlaster comes into its own.

SpywareBlaster sets a so-called "kill bit" that prevents spyware Active X controls on a webpage from being installed at all. It can also stop some Active X controls from running if they have already been installed. The software achieves this by checking its database of known spyware Active X controls. The program has a built in updater, so that information about new spyware threats can be easily added to the spyware database.

This software has quite a lot of useful options. You can configure it to block spyware / tracking cookies, create an encrypted back up of your browser hosts file and a lot more. It also offers the ability to create a "System Snapshot" of your computer when it is in a "clean", spyware free state. A spyware infection can make a lot of changes to your computer settings but the "System Snapshot" function allows you to reverse a lot of these changes quickly and easily.

Although it protects your system from Active X threats in real time, you do not have to have the program running all the time, which saves system resources. However, it is important to open the program and check for updates on a regular basis.

I am not suggesting that SpywareBlaster is a *replacement* for spyware scanners like Ad-Aware, as this is not the case. SpywareBlaster cannot do a full spyware scan of your system and rid your computer of all existing spyware. I have Spybot Search and Destroy, Ad-Aware and SpywareBlaster installed on my systems. Together they provide very thorough protection against spyware.

It is only fair to mention that Spybot Search and Destroy has the "Immunize" option, which provides protection against Active X Controls in a similar way to SpywareBlaster. However, SpywareBlaster is more comprehensive and configurable in this area.

SpywareBlaster is freeware, is compatible with Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4, 2000 and XP and is a relatively small download at a little over 700KB.

You can read more about SpywareBlaster and download the product via the link below:
Spyware Blaster




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Humour: Gullibility Virus Spreading over the Internet!

The original author of this satirical piece is unknown. However, you can read an online version complete with live links.

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Institute for the Investigation of Irregular Internet Phenomena announced today that many Internet users are becoming infected by a new virus that causes them to believe without question every groundless story, legend, and dire warning that shows up in their inbox or on their browser. The Gullibility Virus, as it is called, apparently makes people believe and forward copies of silly hoaxes relating to cookie recipes, email viruses, taxes on modems, and get-rich-quick schemes.

"These are not just readers of tabloids or people who buy lottery tickets based on fortune cookie numbers," a spokesman said. "Most are otherwise normal people, who would laugh at the same stories if told to them by a stranger on a street corner." However, once these same people become infected with the Gullibility Virus, they believe anything they read on the Internet.

"My immunity to tall tales and bizarre claims is all gone," reported one weeping victim. "I believe every warning message and sick child story my friends forward to me, even though most of the messages are anonymous."

Another victim, now in remission, added, "When I first heard about Good Times, I just accepted it without question. After all, there were dozens of other recipients on the mail header, so I thought the virus must be true." It was a long time, the victim said, before she could stand up at a Hoaxes Anonymous meeting and state, "My name is Jane, and I've been hoaxed." Now, however, she is spreading the word. "Challenge and check whatever you read," she says.

Internet users are urged to examine themselves for symptoms of the virus, which include the following:
* the willingness to believe improbable stories without thinking
* the urge to forward multiple copies of such stories to others
* a complete lack of desire to take three minutes to check to see if a story is true

T. C. is an example of someone recently infected. He told one reporter, "I read on the Net that the major ingredient in almost all shampoos makes your hair fall out, so I've stopped using shampoo." When told about the Gullibility Virus, T. C. said he would stop reading email, so that he would not become infected.

Anyone with symptoms like these is urged to seek help immediately. Experts recommend that at the first feelings of gullibility, Internet users rush to their favorite search engine and look up the item tempting them to thoughtless credence. Most hoaxes, legends, and tall tales have been widely discussed and exposed by the Internet community.

Courses in critical thinking are also widely available, and there is online help from many sources, including U.S. Department of Energy Hoax Busters

Those people who are still symptom free can help inoculate themselves against the Gullibility Virus by reading some good material on evaluating sources, such as
- Evaluating Internet Research Sources by Robert Harris at SCCU.edu
- Evaluation of Information Sources part of the The WWW Virtual Library
Lastly, as a public service, Internet users can help stamp out the Gullibility Virus by sending them a URL for this page or any of the above list to anyone who forwards them a hoax.

This message is so important, send it to all your friends right away! Don't think about it! This is not a chain letter! This story is true! Don't check it out! This story is so timely, there is no date on it! This story is so important, we're using lots of exclamation points! For every message you forward to some unsuspecting person, the Home for the Hopelessly Gullible will donate ten cents to itself. (If you wonder how the Home will know you are forwarding these messages all over creation, you're obviously thinking too much.)



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