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Issue 8 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 8: January 23th, 2004

This week in Hoax-Slayer:
U.S.Bank Phishing Scam

The U.S. Bank is currently the target of another phishing expedition.

This is a comparatively unsophisticated phishing scam that tries to scare gullible U.S. Bank customers into providing personal information via a bogus website. One of the fraudulent emails (reproduced below) "informs" the potential victim that his or her account may have been compromised and that the account will be frozen until account details are provided. Like other phishing scams, the intent of the email is to trick people into providing identity and banking information directly to the criminals responsible for the scam. The emails are randomly sent to thousands of email addresses. The scammers rely on the statistical probability that some of the recipients will be U.S. Bank customers and that at least a few of them will be naive enough to take the bait.

According to information on the bank website, "U.S. Bank will never initiate a request for sensitive information from you via email". In fact, it would be highly unlikely for any legitimate financial institution to request sensitive information via email, and such a request should always be viewed as suspect.

Although the bogus website has now been shutdown, it is probable that the scammers responsible are already preparing for their next sting.

Subject: Your account at U.S. Bank has been suspended.

Dear U.S. Bank account holder,

We regret to inform you, that we had to block your U.S. Bank account because we have been notified that your account may have been compromised by outside parties.

Our terms and conditions you agreed to state that your account must always be under your control or those you designate at all times. We have noticed some activity related to your account that indicates that other parties may have access and or control of your information in your account.

These parties have in the past been involved with money laundering, illegal drugs, terrorism and various Federal Title 18 violations. In order that you may access your account we must verify your identity by clicking on the link below.

Please be aware that until we can verify your identity no further access to your account will be allowed and we will have no other liability for your account or any transactions that may have occurred as a result of your failure to reactivate your account as instructed below.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.


Before you reactivate your account, all payments have been frozen, and you will not be able to use your account in any way until we have verified your identity.


SMS Hoax

Australian telecommunications giant, Telstra, has warned customers that a text message that promises free SMS is nothing more than a hoax. The text messages tells recipients that they will receive free SMS for a month in exchange for passing on the message to eight people.

Last year, a similar hoax clogged a Vietnamese mobile phone network when thousands of subscribers forwarded text messages in the hope of receiving 90 Vietnamese dong.

These SMS hoaxes closely resemble a number of email hoaxes including the Nokia Giveaway Hoax, which asked people to forward the email to 8 people to get a new Nokia phone.


Security Tip: Read the EULA

If you download a lot of software, it can be tempting to just skip over the End User License Agreement without actually reading it. This is not a good habit to get into. Some programs have some pretty dubious conditions of use hidden in the legalese of their EULA's. For example, by digitally signing the EULA, you may have given the application developers explicit permission to collect information such as surfing habits and transmit it back to their servers. In other words, you may inadvertently give permission for intrusive, and sometimes unstable, adware to be installed on your computer. If this intention to collect information from end users is not mentioned in the EULA, then the program can be thought of as containing spyware, although the end result is the same. Furthermore, anti-spyware scanners such as Ad-Aware will not always flag information-gathering components if their existence has been noted in a EULA.

Of course, in some cases, you may be quite willing to allow software components to collect information from your computer in exchange for using a program for free. However, it is important that you know about the components before you install the software, hence a thorough reading of the EULA is worth the effort.


Old Virus Hoax: Life is Beautiful

The "Life is Beautiful" hoax is one of those hoaxes that just never die.

Amazingly, the "Life is Beautiful" hoax is still very much active "in the wild". I'm quite surprised at the tenacity of this hoax. In spite of the fact that it has been thoroughly debunked on many different websites, email discussion groups and news groups for well over a year, it continues to circulate.

There are a number of versions of the hoax, some of which are in Portuguese. French, Italian and German.

There is not, nor has there ever been, a virus like the one described in the hoax email.

For more details about this old hoax, refer to:
Life is Beautiful Virus Hoax

This information arrived this morning, from Microsoft and Norton. Please send it to everybody you know who accesses the Internet. You may receive an apparently harmless email with a PowerPoint presentation called "Life is beautiful.pps." If you receive it DO NOT OPEN THE FILE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, and delete it immediately. If you open this file, a message will appear on your screen saying: "It is too late now, your life is no longer beautiful", subsequently you will LOSE EVERYTHING IN YOUR PC and the person who sent it to you will gain access to your name, email and password. This is a new virus which started to circulate on Saturday afternoon. WE NEED TO DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO STOP THIS VIRUS. UOL has already confirmed its dangerousness, and the antivirus Softs are not capable of destroying it. The virus has been created by a hacker who calls himself "life owner", and who aims to destroying domestic PCs and who also fights Microsoft in court! That's why it comes disguised with extension pps. He fights in court for the Windows- XP patent.



Testing your Email Security

In an earlier article I wrote about ways to test your online security.

It's also a good idea to test the security of your email client. The GFI Email Security Testing Zone is place where you can do just that. Enter your email address and the service will perform a vulnerability check on your email system. A series of emails will be sent to you that are designed to test the security of your system and inform you about any potential problems.

When you enter your email address to perform the tests, you will first receive an email that asks for confirmation. Once you confirm your request, a series of test emails will be sent. Each email will outline the results of the test. Naturally, none of the test emails contain any harmful code or viruses. The emails are designed to fool your security software into detecting a potential threat.

Although the company offering the tests is in the business of selling security software, I believe all the tests are legitimate and above board. When requesting the test, you are given the option of subscribing to the GIF Newsletter, but I have never received unsolicited email from the company.

During the test, your anti-virus software may warn you that you have a virus. Don't be alarmed by this as it is part of the test. The "virus" is the eicar Anti-Virus test file and it will not harm your system in any way.

Read more about the service and request the tests.


Humorous Hoax: Drivers Licence on the Internet

The website to which the email below refers is actually rather clever.

However, I've seen the email around often enough to suspect that people are forwarding it onward without bothering to go to the site and check it out. That is, I'm inclined to think that some people are taking the email at face value and actually believe the information it contains to be true. These days there are a plethora of real threats to our privacy so obscuring the truth by perpetrating false invasion of privacy stories is less than desirable.

Having said that, taken in context, the site represents an enjoyable prank. If you have a minute, you might like to visit the site mentioned and enter some false data to see what it comes up with.

But think twice about sending it on to friends unless you make it clear that it's just a joke.

You need to check this out everybody!!!!

Invasion Of Privacy!!!
I just found this.
You can see anyone's Driver's License on the Internet - including your own! I just searched for mine and there it was.. .picture, address and all! Maybe we should start up a petition or something protesting this.

What do you think? Go to the website and check it out. It's unbelievable!!!

Just enter your name, City and state to see if yours is on file. CLICK HERE----->


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