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Virtual Card For You Virus Hoax

Summary:
Email claims that a message with the subject line "A virtual card for you" carries a virus that will destroy the hard drive on the infected computer (Full commentary below).



Status:
False

Update:
August 2007 - A new version of this hoax email tacks on factual information about a genuine, but totally unrelated trojan threat (Details in commentary below).

Update:
February 2008 - Yet another version claims that an email with an attachment entitled "POSTCARD" will destroy the hard drive of the infected computer. (Read an article about the Postcard Image Virus Hoax)

Example:(Submitted, February 2007)

WORST VIRUS EVER --- CNN ANNOUNCED
PLEASE SEND THIS TO EVERYONE ON YOUR CONTACT LIST!!
A new virus has just been discovered that has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive ever. This virus was discovered yesterday afternoon by McAfee . This virus simply destroys Sector Zero from the hard disk, where vital information for its functioning are stored.

This virus acts in the following manner:
It sends itself automatically to all contacts on your list with the title: "A Card for You".

As soon as the supposed virtual card is opened the computer freezes so that the user has to reboot. When the ctrl+alt+ del keys or the reset button are pressed, the virus destroys Sector Zero, thus permanently destroying the hard disk. Yesterday in just a few hours this virus caused panic in New York , according to news broadcast by CNN.

This alert was received by an employee of Microsoft itself.
So don't open any mails with subject: "A Virtual Card for You. " As soon as you get the mail, delete it !! Please pass this mail to all of your friends.

Forward this to everyone in your address book. I'm sure most people, like myself, would rather receive this notice 25 times than not at All .




Commentary:
This old virus hoax has been continually circulating since 2001. In spite of being quite thoroughly debunked on a number of anti-virus and anti-hoax sites, including Symantec, the message still manages to fool many recipients into urgently hitting the "Forward" button. There is not, nor has there ever been a virus that fits the characteristics of the one described in the email. Over the last few years, there have been Dutch, German, Spanish and Portuguese versions of the hoax as well as several English variants. All versions are equally false.

Unfortunately, there are many false "virus warnings" that are passed around via email. Some, like this one, are outright hoaxes. Others seriously overstate the risks of the threat described, or are hopelessly outdated. Such bogus warnings help nobody and do nothing more than spread misinformation. Therefore, it is important to check the facts before sending on any email virus warning. Information about destructive viruses like the one described in this message would certainly be listed on many different anti-virus sites. In fact, a virus so bad that it actually destroyed the hard-drives of infected computers and "caused panic in New York" would also be prominently featured by news outlets around the world. Conversely, if a warning message is a known hoax, it will most likely be listed as such on both hoax information and anti-virus websites.

Thus, it is not usually very difficult or time consuming to verify if an emailed virus warning is true or false. Email hoaxes like this one try to create a false sense of urgency in order to trick people into sending them on without too much forethought. However, even if a warning turns out to be legitimate, the described threat is very unlikely to be so dire that recipients should not spend a minute or so verifying the information. No matter how urgent or important the information may seem, responsible Internet users will always verify before forwarding.

If you receive a copy of this email, do not forward it to others and please let the sender know the information it contains is untrue.

Update:
Around August 2007, a new version of this hoax email began circulating that included added information about a genuine, but completely separate malware threat. A copy of the new version is included below:
Thought I would pass this one on to everyone.

This one is for real - do not open any emails about receiving postcards or greetings from a friend etc. Just delete the whole email.

My inbox has been inundated with emails saying a friend, neighbor, classmate, admirer has sent a greeting, postcard, card etc. from Bluemountain, Postcard. com etc, etc, etc.


Guys this is quite real.. so please be careful

WORST VIRUS EVER --- CNN ANNOUNCED

PLEASE SEND THIS TO EVERYONE ON YOUR CONTACT LIST!!

A new virus has just been discovered that has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive ever.

This virus was discovered yesterday afternoon by McAfee. This virus simply destroys Sector Zero from the hard disk, where vital information for its functioning are stored.

This virus acts in the following manner:
It sends itself automatically to all contacts on your list with the title: "A Card for You".

As soon as the supposed virtual card is opened the computer freezes so that the user has to reboot. When the ctrl+alt+del keys or the reset button are pressed, the virus destroys Sector Zero, thus permanently destroying the hard disk.

Yesterday in just a few hours this virus caused panic in New York, according to news broadcast by CNN.

This alert was received by an employee of Microsoft.

So don't open any mails with subject: "A Virtual Card for You." As soon as you get the mail, delete it! Even if you know the sender !!!

Please pass this mail to all of your friends. CUT AND PASTE this to everyone in your address book. I'm sure most people, like myself, would rather receive this notice 25 times than not at all.
The first part of this new version (bold text in above example) is true. In July 2007 a spate of malicious eCard notification emails began hitting inboxes. Some of the first claimed to be notifications about a postcard from a family member. Back in early July, other emails claimed to be a 4th July celebration eCard notification from a colleague or friend.

Since then, there have been several other versions, all claiming to be a notification that someone has sent you an eCard.

Clicking on links in these emails opens a website that will download a trojan to the user's computer. The trojan will then attempt to download and install other malware.

However, it is important to note that this malware campaign is totally unrelated to the information contained in the original "virtual card" hoax. The genuine threat downloads a trojan that may give a hacker access to the infected computer, but it does not destroy the computer's hard-drive. Moreover, the malware emails do not arrive with the subject line "A Virtual Card for You".

Unfortunately, by adding information about a real malware threat, the perpetrator has, perhaps unwittingly, given new life to this old hoax. More importantly, because this version combines factual information with a well-known hoax, any warning value the message might have had is significantly eroded. Many recipients will simply dismiss the message as a mutation of the original hoax and the factual information it contains will go unheeded.

Certainly, Internet users should always be very cautious of any eCard notification emails. Do not click links in these emails until you have checked that the message is from a genuine eCard service. However, if you receive a warning about these malicious emails that is combined with the virtual card hoax, please do not forward it as your action will do no more than spread dangerous misinformation. Also, be sure to let the sender know that the "virtual card" portion of the message is a known hoax.

An earlier version of the hoax:
ATENTION TO THIS WARNING...

It just have been discovered a new virus that was clasified by MICROSOFT and by MCAFEE as the biggest destroyer of all times. This virus was discovered yesterday afternoon by MCAFFE and a vaccine for this virus is not found yet. It just destroy the 0 track of hard drive where the vital information for its FUNctionality.

It works as follows:

1- It sends itself by Internet with the subject "A VIRTUAL CARD FOR YOU".
2- Locks the computer, so user must reboot it.
3- At the moment that the keys CTRL-ALT-DEL or RESET are pressed, it destroy the 0 track and the hard drive for ever.

Please distribute this email to as many people as possible, in some hours of yesterday this virus caused panic in NEW YORK as CNN said.


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References:
Virtual Card for You
Virus Hoaxes
Osama Bin Laden Virus Emails
Postcard From a Family Member Malware Email
Fake 4th Of July eCards Point to Trojan
Malicious eCard Emails Continue

Last updated: 26th February 2008
First published: June 2004

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen

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