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Garbled and Misleading 'MAS Overboard Movie' Virus Warning


Alert circulating via text message and social media posts warns users not to open a 'MAS overboard movie' about the lost Malaysian Airlines flight because it contains a virus that will delete phone contacts. The message also warns users not to open emails with specific names because they contain a virus that will delete everything on the user's hard drive.

Brief Analysis

The message is simply too garbled and inaccurate to have any merit as a warning. Scammers and malware distributors have indeed capitalized on the MH370 tragedy, but this message does not effectively warn against such activities. Moreover, the second part of the message is reminiscent of a long running virus hoax and, again, is not a useful computer security warning. Sending on this message is counterproductive.


Emergency notification > Please tell friends and family >

(1) Do not open the video of the Malaysia Airlines that had crashed in the Indian Ocean Friends of mine all had their whatsapp,wechat,line and phone contacts deleted, they had to also re-enter it after re-setting their phones!!! 'MAS overboard movie,' has been spread online. Do not open that and delete it as soon as possible because it is a virus!

2. if you receive an e-mail/letter named 'HanaYasushi-shin' Do not open this letter, it will delete everything on your hard drive. This is a very new and dangerous virus that not many people know. it was announced by 'Microsoft' yesterday morning. If you receive letters/emails called 'KoMegumi - or Stefanie Sun' And there are additional files, about a few hundred K size, please do not open because there's a virus! ! ! > > Please forward this message to your friends so that other people won't get the virus. Once you open the email that has the virus, the email will automatically be forwarded to your friends.

After reading this, forward it as fast as possible!!!!

Detailed Analysis

According to this supposed 'emergency notification', which is circulating via text messages and social media, users should not open a message called 'MAS overboard movie', because it is a virus that will delete all the contacts on the recipient's phone. Supposedly, the virus is related to a video about lost Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

It also warns not to open any emails that have one of several listed names because the emails contain a virus that will delete everything on the user's hard drive. The message claims that this supposed virus is very new and very dangerous and was announced by Microsoft 'yesterday morning'. The message implores people to forward the information as fast as possible as a means of warning others about these new threats.

However, this message is simply too vague, garbled and inaccurate to have any real value as a security warning. And, it also incorporates elements of older virus hoaxes.

Callous scammers have indeed capitalized on the MH370 tragedy. Some bogus messages have falsely claimed that the aircraft has been found and that users can click a link to view video footage of the downed plane. These links lead to rogue apps, survey scams, or malware websites. So, it is true that people should be careful of clicking links in messages claiming to have video footage about flight MH370.

However, I have not found any credible references to a MH370 phone contact 'virus' like the one described in the message.

The second part of the message is reminiscent of several long running virus hoaxes that have claimed that emails with specific names contain viruses that can destroy the hard drives of infected computers. The older hoaxes also claim that these new and destructive viruses have just been classified and discovered by Microsoft or McAfee.

Of course, users should certainly be cautious of unsolicited emails, especially if they contain attached files. However, again, there is no virus like the one described in the message nor has Microsoft made any announcement about such a virus. The message's similarity to older virus hoaxes further robs it of credibility.

Thus, sending on this breathless and inaccurate message is unlikely to help people stay safe online. In fact, it is more likely to just confuse recipients. To have any validity, it is essential that computer security warnings contain accurate and up-to-date information that can be clearly understood by recipients. Ideally, they should also include reference links to more detailed information about the perceived threat.

Last updated: April 24, 2014
First published: April 24, 2014
Written by Brett M. Christensen
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