Issue 26 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter
Issue 26: 4th June, 2004
This week in Hoax-Slayer:
MSN Contact Virus Hoax
From time to time this virus hoax gets trundled out for another run, each time with a new email address plugged into it. It may be an attempt to discredit or annoy the owner of the specified email address or just a practical joke. The latest "victim" appears to be firstname.lastname@example.org
In fact there are dozens of variations of the hoax, all equally false. One of the earliest versions appears to have been in Portuguese. The number of versions alone is enough to strongly suggest that this is a hoax.
Furthermore, none of the versions actually name the "virus" nor do they provide any means of checking the veracity of the claim. None of the major anti-virus websites have information about a virus like the one described, except to identify it as a hoax.
Also, the technical aspects of the message are fundamentally flawed. Although it is possible for worms to spread via MSN Messenger, the message implies that the email address itself is a virus. This is not possible. To be infected, some sort of file transfer needs to take place. If Messenger was configured to automatically accept files from a contact list, then it is possible that a virus could be sent by this new and sinister "contact". But even if the virus was sent in this way, the recipient would still have to explicitly open the file before a computer was infected. Again, although it is possible to disguise a link to a malicious webpage in an HTML email so that it "looks" like an email address, the recipient would have to actually click on the link before any virus threat was downloaded.
If this was a real virus, the warning email would more than likely give details of how the actual transfer of the "virus" takes place and advise on how to avoid it. Instead, it states a technical impossibility.
Such hoaxes do nothing more than clutter up the information superhighway. These messages should be deleted without forwarding.
Symantec: Messenger Add a Contact Hoax
Shades of Chic Article
If somebody called email@example.com adds you to your msn, dont accept it. Its a virus. Tell everyone on ur msn because if somebody on ur list adds them u get the virus too. Copy and paste this to EVERYONE AND FAST
if somebody called pins_and_neadles@hotmail com adds you to their msn dont accept it Its a virus Tell everyone on ur msn because if somebody on ur list adds them u get the virus too Copy and paste this to everyone you know
If somebody named, ( aflino at hotmail.com) adds you on msn,dont accept.Its an advanced virus that begins to slowly remove My Documents then goes out to all your hard drives. Send this to all people online in your msn list and address book.
IF firstname.lastname@example.org ADDS YOU TO THEIR CONTACT LIST DO NOT LET THEM BECOME ONE OF YOUR CONTACTS AS THIS IS A VIRUS THAT WILL INFECT YOU AND EVERY ONE ON YOUR LIST.
SO IF ONE OF YOUR CONTACT ADD'S THIS PERSON THEN YOU BECOME INFECTED AS WELL SO BE VERY SURE TO LET ALL YOUR CONTACT'S KNOW"
If email@example.com adds you to their msn list, don't add it because its a virus; tell everybody on your msn because if somebody on your list accepts it then you get the virus too!!! (Copy and paste this and pass it on!).
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AOL Phisher Scams
AOL customers have recently been the targets of a number of
phisher scam emails. The fraudulent emails are supposedly from AOL
and ask recipients to click on a link to verify their identity,
update information or validate their account. The links lead to a
bogus website where people are asked to submit a range of sensitive
information including credit card details. The site is disguised
to resemble a legitimate AOL webpage. Information entered into the
fraudulent form will be sent directly to the scammers who will then
have enough information to access the victim's credit card account.
Neither the websites nor the emails are connected to AOL in any way.
If you receive one of these scam emails, do not click on the link
provided nor should you reply to the email. Be wary of any email
that asks you to provide sensitive information, either via an
embedded form or via a website.
Read more information about phisher scams
A copy of one of the AOL phisher scams is included below:
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We encountered a billing error when attempting to renew your AOL
membership services. This type of error usually indicates that
either the credit card you
have on file has expired or that the billing address we have on
file is not current.
Please use the link below to update your billing information.
AOL Billing Center
If you feel this as an error and you want to discontinue your AOL
membership, please disregard this message and call our customer
service to cancel the service.
America Online Billing Department
© 2004 America Online, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Cactus Spider Hoax
Yet another hoax that involves spiders is circulating. Spiders
tend to be a common theme of hoaxes and urban legends. This one
has morphed through a number of versions. In fact, the tale
pre-dates the Internet, but email has given it new life. The
example reproduced below boasts an Australian setting, but others
have been set in a variety of locations around the world. In some
versions, the cactus is a small potted specimen that is kept
inside the house and does actually explode its load of spiders into
It hardly needs to be said that the tale is completely untrue. Most
types of tarantula live in underground burrows while a few live in
trees. However, there is no record of them building nests inside
cactus plants. Furthermore, even if spider eggs were laid inside a
plant, it certainly would not explode when the eggs hatched.
Tarantulas are the giants of the spider world. Given their size
and frightening appearance, it is not surprising that they play a
starring role in this lovely old tale as well as numerous horror
stories and Hollywood films. They are often portrayed as being
extremely venomous. However, according The Natural History of
, Tarantula venom is not
considered to be of medical importance to humans. Of the hundreds
of reported cases of tarantula bites very few cause anything more
serious than temporary local inflammation.
Although this hoax email is a work of fiction, it is rather an
An example of the hoax message:
A true story and its source was the Australian Quarantine
Inspection Service in Adelaide.
A bloke and his family were on holidays in the United States and
went to Mexico for a week. An avid cactus fan, the man bought a
one-metre high, rare and expensive cactus there. On arrival back
home Australian Customs said it must be quarantined for 3 months.
He finally got his cactus home. Planted it in his backyard, and
over time it grew to about 2 metres. One evening while watering
his garden after a warm spring day, he gave the cactus a light
spray. He was amazed to see the plant shiver all over, he gave
it another spray and it shivered again. He was puzzled so he rang
the council who put him on to the state gardens people. After a
few transfers he got the state's foremost cactus expert who
asked him many questions. How Tall is it? Has it flowered? etc.
Finally he asked the most disturbing question. "Is your family
in the house?" The bloke answered yes. The cactus expert said get
out of the house NOW, get on to the front nature strip and wait
for me, I will be there in 20 minutes.
Fifteen minutes later, 2 fire trucks, 2 police cars and an
ambulance came screaming around the corner. A fireman got out
and asked "Are you the bloke with the cactus?" I am, he said.
A guy jumped out of the fire truck wearing what looked like a
space suit, a breathing cylinder and mask attached to what
looked like a scuba backpack with a large hose attached. He
headed for the backyard and turned a flame-thrower on the
cactus spraying it up and down.
After a few minutes the flame-thrower man stopped, the cactus
stood smoking and spitting, half the fence was burnt and parts
of the gardens were well and truly scorched. Just then the cactus
expert appeared and laid a calming hand on the bloke's shoulder.
"What the hell's going on?" he says. "Let me show you" says the
cactus man. He went over to the cactus and picked away a crusty bit,
the cactus was almost entirely hollow and filled with tiger striped
bird-eating tarantula spiders, each about the size of two hand
The story was that this type of spider lays eggs in this type of
cactus and they hatch and live in it as they grow to full size.
When full size they release themselves. The cactus just explodes
and about 150 dinner plate sized hairy spiders are flung from it,
dispersing everywhere. They had been ready to pop. The aftermath
was that the house and the adjoining houses had to be vacated and
fumigated: police tape was put up outside the whole area and no
one was allowed in for two weeks.
And here's what one of the spiders looks like sitting on a full
size dinner plate.
Other spider hoaxes:
Camel Spiders in Iraq Hoax Email
Spider Under Florida Toilet Seat Hoax
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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
A number of variations of the Korgo worm have been spreading.
These worms use the LSASS vulnerability present in unpatched
Windows 2000, and XP systems. Unpatched systems should be updated
as soon as possible. One variant, W32.Korgo.F
, has been given a
category of 3 out of 5 by Symantec.
is another mass mailing worm that searches the infected computer for email addresses and sends itself using its own SMTP engine. It also spreads via file sharing networks. The
subject of the email will be one of the following:
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Discussion: Dealing with Spam
Spam is the scourge of the Internet and a steadily increasing
problem. I would be interested in hearing about how you
with spam. What tactic, if any, have you found most useful for
dealing with spam? Software filters? Server-side spam filters?
Simpler remedies such as using throwaway email accounts online?
A combination of anti-spam strategies?
Let's discuss it! It doesn't matter if you are a computer newbie
or an IT professional, your input is valuable and we can all learn
from each other. You can discuss
Spam Control issues
on the Hoax-Slayer Forums here
I've made this particular forum public, so that you don't have to
register to post. Please pop in and have your say!
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Tip of the Week: Damn Small Linux
If you've always wanted to try out the Linux operating system, but
haven't had the time or inclination to delve into it too deeply,
Damn Small Linux might be just the right distribution for you.
The whole thing weighs in at under 50 MB, which is very small for
a complete operating system.
The OS boots from a CD, so you don't have to worry about installing
it on your hard-drive or fiddling around with Linux partitions. It
comes with some essential applications such as a browser, email
client, word processor and graphics tools. Naturally, the OS is a
little limited because of its small size, but this distribution
represents an excellent way for Linux virgins to get their feet wet.
You will need a computer that allows you to boot from a CD. If
necessary, you may need to access the BIOS and configure your
machine so that it will boot from a CD, rather than a floppy disk.
Get more information and download a copy of Damn Small
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Feedback from Readers and Site Visitors
If you receive a hoax or scam email, I would appreciate it if you
would send me a copy
I've had many submissions this week about the
Money From Microsoft Giveaway hoax
. There is a new version circulating that has some minor changes, including the bogus claim that the message "TOOK TWO PAGES OF THE TUESDAY USATODAY - IT IS FOR REAL".
The HIV Needles Hoax
was also the subject of quite a few submission
and enquiries. This email hoax falsely claims that HIV infected
needles are being deliberately placed where they can cause injury to
unsuspecting members of the public.
Popular submission topics this week include:
The Amy Bruce Hoax
The Teddy Bear Virus Hoax
- A number of phisher scam emails that target eBay, AOL and others
Don't forget that you can discuss scams and hoaxes and other topics
on the new
. I've had a few people register, but
I would be pleased to see some more activity in the forums :)
Once again, thanks very much for you submissions!
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©Brett M. Christensen, 2008
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