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Issue 21 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 21: 30th April, 2004
This week in Hoax-Slayer:
Scammers Target Citibank Again

Citibank is currently the target of a series of phisher scams designed to steal sensitive personal information from Citibank customers. Scam emails, supposedly from Citibank, have been randomly mass mailed to thousands of Internet users. The scammers rely on the statistical probability that at least a few of the recipients will be Citibank customers and that a small number that *are* customers will fall for the scam.

The scam emails take the form of HTML messages designed to resemble official Citibank correspondence, complete with authentic looking logos. The emails cover a range of subjects, including "Account Updates", information on "Security Updates" and "Banking alert confirmations". Links included in the emails lead to a bogus website that looks like the real Citibank site and requests victims to provide account numbers, passwords and other personal information.

Citibank has comprehensive information about these scam emails, including examples, on their website. (Click on the "Consumer Alert" link).

Phishing is an ongoing and continually growing scam, and Citibank is certainly not the only organization being currently targeted. In recent weeks, major Australian and New Zealand banks have been targeted by similar scams, some of which employ a key-logging trojan.

As a rule of thumb, be wary of any email that asks you to provide sensitive personal information such as banking details. Most legitimate companies would not request such information from customers via a method as potentially insecure as email. If you have any doubts at all about the veracity of the email, contact the company directly.


New Version of Camel Spider Hoax

A new version of the Camel Spiders in Iraq hoax email is now circulating. Like its predecessor, this version contains outrageous claims about the dangers of camel spiders. Both versions arrive with the same photograph of two supposedly gigantic camel spiders being held up by a US soldier in Iraq. Camel spiders are real creatures, but the information about them in these hoax emails is untrue.

A copy of the latest version:

Subject:.........Read the Text First!!!! These things are huge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They run 10 mph, jump three feet, are a nocturnal spider, so only come out at night unless they are in shade. When they bite you, you are injected with Novocaine so you go numb instantly. You don't even know you are bitten when you are sleeping, so you wake up with part of your leg or arm missing because it has been gnawing on it all night long.

If you are walking around and you bump something that is casting a shadow over it, and the sun makes contact with it, you better run. It will instantly run for your shadow, and scream the whole time it is chasing you.

PS. The one on the bottom is eating the one on the top. These are spiders found daily in IRAQ by the troops. Imagine waking up and seeing one of these beauties in your tent!!

Camel Spiders
[Click image for full size view]


Virus Report: Weekly Virus Wrap-Up

The list below represents some of the most significant new virus threats identified by Symantec Security Response over the last few days.

More Netsky Variants: The people who name viruses have run out of alphabet when it comes to the Netsky worm and have resorted to double letters. Two significant new variants, W32.Netsky.AA@mm and W32.Netsky.AB@mm are currently hitting inboxes. These worms scan the infected computer for email addresses and send themselves using their own SMTP engine. Subject and attachment names vary, as does the message.

W32.Beagle.X@mm is another mass-mailing worm that can spread via email and file-sharing networks as well as open a backdoor on the infected computer. When executed, the worm opens a message box with the message "Can't find a viewer associated with the file".


Spam Control: Some Golden Rules

Spam is estimated to account for around half of the email sent worldwide and has become the scourge of the Internet. Although there are no foolproof methods of completely controlling spam, implementing the following rules will certainly reduce it.

Follow the links provided to read more formation about each of these rules.

  1. Start a Spam Account

  2. Don't Reply to Spam

  3. Don't Unsubscribe to Spam

  4. Trim email addresses when forwarding


Tip of the Week: Monitoring Windows Resources

There probably aren't many users of Windows operating systems that have not experienced unexpected crashes and the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) from time to time. The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid at least *some* of these crashes. Obviously it is more desirable to initiate a controlled shutdown than experience a system crash that could result in data (and hair) loss. One way to achieve this goal is to use resource-monitoring tools that can inform you of impending trouble before it strikes.

Windows 98/Me users:

The Windows Resource Meter is a tiny program that runs in the background and lets you know the amount of resources your system is using at a given time. It displays as an icon in the System Tray and is colour coded. If the icon dips down to yellow, it might be a good time to close a few programs to see if you can reclaim some memory. If it goes down to red, and closing programs doesn't improve things much, it's probably a good time to reboot your system. Clicking the icon will open a window with more detailed resource information.

To locate and enable the Windows Resource Meter:

1. Click "Start", "Programs", "Accessories" and then "System Tools". Hopefully the Resource Meter will be present. If not, you may need to install it from your operating system installation disk. Alternatively, you can download a slightly enhanced version. The enhanced version has some extra right-click menu items.

2. If you want the Resource Meter to load when you start your computer you can drag its shortcut from "System Tools" and drop it in the "Startup" folder.

Windows XP Users:

Thankfully, Windows XP tends to be more stable than Windows 9x and has better memory management. Never the less, it's still helpful to keep an eye on your CPU usage.

You can keep the CPU meter from Windows Task Manager running in your system tray all the time. To do this:

1: Key Control/Alt/Delete to open the Windows Task Manager.

2. Click "Options" and then check "Minimize on Use" and "Hide when Minimized."

3. Click the "minimize" button rather than the "close" button and the little resource meter will stay in your system tray and let you see how hard your processor is working.

Hold your mouse over the icon to see the actual percentage of resources being used. Click the icon for quick access to the Task Manager.


Feedback from Readers and Site Visitors

Each week a growing number of site visitors have been good enough to submit examples of hoax or scam emails they have received. If you receive a hoax or scam email, I would appreciate it if you would send me a copy.

Rather ironically, my feedback email address appears to have fallen into the hands of some Nigerian scammers. I have received literally dozens of Nigerian and lottery scam emails direct from the scammers. I'm tempted to reply with a "Thank you for submitting examples for my ANTI-SCAM website", but that would more than likely get my feedback email address on a lot more spam lists.

Popular submissions from readers and site visitors this week include, the Spider Under Florida Toilet Seat Hoax discussed above, the Teddy Bear Virus hoax and the Hotmail hoax.

Readers and visitors have also submitted a number of phishing scam examples that target various financial institutions, including the National and Westpac banks.

Once again the Camel Spiders in Iraq page received a lot of visitors.

Thank you to all those who have submitted material!


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