Issue 35 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter
Issue 35: 19th August, 2004
This week in Hoax-Slayer:
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Cheap Software Spam
Lately I have seen a lot of spam email that advertisers software
at absurdly low prices. The spam has a link to a website where
visitors can order the software products advertised. The
professional looking site claims that the products can be sold
so cheaply because they are OEM versions, and don't arrive with
the original packaging and manual. However, I'm betting that
there is a more sinister reason for the low prices. Although I
can't be certain without ordering and testing some of the
software, there is a strong probability that the products are
illegal copies of the genuine articles. These companies often
operate out of Eastern Europe which can make it difficult for
legitimate software vendors to take legal action against them.
The product might actually be delivered as promised, but it might
well be an inferior pirated copy, and you could be breaking the
law by owning and using it.
Also, from the look of it, the ordering system is not even on a
secure web page, so you are expected to send credit card details
unsecured. I have seen a number of virtually identical sites
pushing this software. Links in the spam emails appear to be
affiliate links because of the id numbers that form the end of
the URL's. Possibly, affiliate partners get their own identical
site and gain a percentage of any income generated via "their"
site. Then they can spam as many people as possible and lead
people to their affiliate site.
In any case, I wouldn't buy anything from these people. Even
if the software arrives, it may be a buggy and illegal copy.
Besides, I have a personal policy of *never* buying from
spammers. Every time someone buys a product or service
advertised in a spam email the spammers reap the benefits.
If nobody ever responded to spam, the problem would go away.
Read more information about this sort of spam.
Discuss This Story
Cell Phone Cameras and Credit Cards
There has been a lot of Internet discussion about the security
risks posed by cell phone cameras. Emails, forum posts and
website articles warn of the danger. Others question how real
the danger actually is.
One such email warning is reproduced below. The information may
be true, but I'm not sure how big a security risk this would
actually pose. I would have thought that the person using the
phone would have to stand pretty close to you in order to take a
legible picture of you credit card. As an experiment, I tried
taking a photo of my own card in a mock shopping situation with
my digital camera. There is no way that I could read the numbers
on the card from a photo snapped while the card was sitting on
the "counter" waiting to be scanned nor over the shoulder of a
person holding the card, even when using the zoom function. My
camera is by no means top of the range, but it certainly has
better resolution than your average cell phone camera.
Of course, I could
take a clear picture of the card, but I'm not
sure how I could do this without the owner of the card being
aware of it. I would have to get the camera pretty close to the
card, to get a clear picture.
However, I'm not dismissing this out of hand, as I guess it might
be possible to distract the card owner enough to snap a quick
close up shot. Also, mobile phone technology is changing rapidly.
The newest wave of phones might
have the necessary resolution
to easily take card shots that could be deciphered later.
Right now however, I would not consider phone cameras a major
threat when it comes to stealing credit card information. I
haven't read about any actual victims of the scam and a lot
of the warnings and reports seem to be anecdotal.
Mind you, "be aware of your surroundings" is actually quite
good advice when it comes to your personal security. And it
would be certainly a good idea to watch out for people acting
suspiciously with cell phones. Cell phone cameras have been
used to take indecent photographs, sometimes of children. With
the advent of any new technology, there will be those who are
willing and able to abuse it for their own ends.
An example of the message:
Keep a watch out for people standing near you at retail stores,
restaurants, grocery stores, etc., that have a cell phone in
hand. With camera cell phones, they can take a picture of your
credit card, which gives them your name, number, and
expiration date. Identification theft is one of the fastest
growing scams today, and this is just another example of the
means that are being used. So... be aware of your surroundings.
Discuss This Story
PASS THIS ON!!!!!!!!
WTC Survivor Hoax Returns
Every year as the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack
approaches, the WTC Survivor hoax enjoys a resurgence. At this
time of year it is a common visitor to inboxes around the world.
I've received a number of queries about the hoax this week and
the article about it on the Hoax-Slayer website has received an
increasing number of visitors.
It originally began circulating not long after the tragedy of
9/11. It disgusts me that the perpetrators of this hoax could
use such a profound human tragedy to add weight to their
There is not, nor has there ever been a virus like the one
described in the email.
There are several, equally nonsensical, versions of this hoax,
including one rendered in Spanish. If you receive this email,
please delete it without forwarding it on to others.
You can confirm the status of this hoax email via the link
WTC Survivor Hoax
Discuss This Story
During the next several weeks be VERY cautious about opening or
launching any e-mails that refer to the World Trade Center or
9/11 in any way, regardless of who sent it. PLEASE FORWARD TO
ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY. FOR THOSE WHO DON'T KNOW, "WTC"
STANDS FOR THE WORLD TRADE CENTER. REALLY DANGEROUS BECAUSE
PEOPLE WILL OPEN IT RIGHT AWAY, THINKING IT'S A STORY RELATING
BIG TROUBLE!!!! DO NOT OPEN "WTC Survivor." It is a virus
that will erase your whole "C" drive.. It will come to you in
the form of an E-Mail from a familiar person. I repeat, a
friend sent it to me, but called and warned me before I opened
it. He was not so lucky and now he can't even start his
Forward this to everyone in your address book. I would rather
receive this 25 times than not at all. So, if you receive an
email called "WTC Survivor", do not open it. Delete it right
away! This virus removes all dynamic link libraries (dll files)
from your computer.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS MESSAGE
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
Yet another variant of the MyDoom worm, W32.Mydoom.Q@mm
circulating. This is a worm that downloads an .exe file from a
specified website, searches the infected computer for email
addresses and sends itself using its own SMTP engine. The subject
of the infected email will be "Photos" and the attachment name
Another Beagle variant, W32.Beagle.AP@mm
, is also spreading.
The worm uses its own SMTP engine to send itself to email
addresses it finds on the infected computer. The subject of
the infected email will be either blank, or one of the
Re: Msg reply
Re: Thank you!
Re: Thanks :)
RE: Text message
Re: Incoming Message
RE: Incoming Msg
RE: Message Notify
Fax Message Received
RE: Protected message
Both these worms use spoofing, which means that the email address
recorded in the "From" field of the infected email is most
probably not the actual sender of the virus. It is important
that recipients understand this spoofing tactic before accusing
others of sending virus-infected email. For a detailed
explanation of spoofing see:
Email Worm Spoofing - Spoofing Explained
Discuss This Story
Come Visit the Hoax-Slayer Forums!
I'd like to encourage readers to visit the Hoax-Slayer Forums
The forums provide a place for you to discuss hoaxes and
scams as well as offer feedback. However, they also give you
the chance to interact with other readers and site visitors in
a variety of topic categories including:
- Ghosts and Monsters
- Aliens and UFO's
- Virus and Security Issues
- Computer Help
- Spam Control
- Software Discussion
- General Discussion
The forums now have a few members. However, I'd enjoy seeing a
lot more activity there. Online forums can be a great way to
exchange information, "meet" people and have some fun.
So it would be great if you would join the forums and help to
get things going by posting. If you want to post, you will need
to go through the simple (and free) registration process.
Unfortunately, registration is necessary to prevent the forums
being overrun by spammers.
Discuss This Story
Freeware Review: Picasa
For the last couple of weeks I've been trying out Picasa, a
digital photo organizing program. This is great
best I've used in the field. It's very easy to use and I love the
interface. It's much better than the rather stodgy software that
came with my digital camera, that's for sure.
You can use the program to easily email photos to friends and
family members. Picasa also allows you to export complete albums
as web pages. There are several web page templates you can choose
from that generate thumbnails of the images in the album. Clicking
on the thumbnails opens a full sized image. Using the "Export
album as web page" option is a great way to easily share multiple
photos. Once you have uploaded the web page and images to a
website you can simple email the link to your friends and family.
Picasa is now owned by Google and is free. From the download site:
Everything you need to enjoy your digital photos in a single
Find out more about Picasa
Discuss This Story
Auto-transfer photos from your digital camera.
Organize and find pictures in seconds.
Edit, print, and share photos with ease.
Create slideshows, order prints and more!"
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