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Virus Hoaxes


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Have you ever gotten an email message like this?

BIGGGG 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 computer! Forward
this to everyone in your address book. I would rather receive
this 25 times than not at all. 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.

Again,,, I urge all of you to make sure your virius scanners
are up to date daily!!!!!! FG

Sounds very bad, doesn’t it? My, what a horrible virus. It, and
others like it, will eat your hard drive, destroy your email,
infect every other machine on your network and listed in your
address book, and even perhaps give you cookies and make your
car break down!

This email and others like it are simply hoaxes? How do I know
they are a hoax and not a real warning? Here’s how it works. A
virus propagates (reproduces) by automatically sending itself to
all of the addresses in your address book. This is a fairly
complex piece of code, requiring a little knowledge on the part
of the person who created the virus.

Well, instead of writing code to propagate something, why not
ask some gullible people to do it for you? That’s what these
hoaxes are all about – the “virus” is the email message and the
delivery system is human being.

Why will people do this? Sometimes it’s just for a laugh, and
sometimes it’s for more insidious reasons. Someone could send
out a message which claimed that any message from AOL contained
a virus, for example, in an effort to make AOL look bad.

Here is one of the first hoaxes known to have been sent out
across the internet. It went out in 1988.

SUBJ: Really Nasty Virus AREA: GENERAL (1)

I’ve just discovered probably the world’s worst computer virus
yet. I had just finished a late night session of BBS’ing and
file treading when I exited Telix 3 and attempted to run pkxarc
to unarc the software I had downloaded. Next thing I knew my
hard disk was seeking all over and it was apparently writing
random sectors. Thank god for strong coffee and a recent backup.
Everything was back to normal, so I called the BBS again and
downloaded a file. When I went to use ddir to list the
directory, my hard disk was getting trashed again. I tried
Procomm Plus TD and also PC Talk 3. Same results every time.
Something was up so I hooked up to my test equipment and
different modems (I do research and development for a local
computer telecommunications company and have an in-house lab at
my disposal). After another hour of corrupted hard drives I
found what I think is the world’s worst computer virus yet. The
virus distributes itself on the modem sub-carrier present in all
2400 baud and up modems. The sub-carrier is used for ROM and
register debugging purposes only, and otherwise serves no othr
(sp) purpose. The virus sets a bit pattern in one of the
internal modem registers, but it seemed to screw up the other
registers on my USR. A modem that has been “infected” with this
virus will then transmit the virus to other modems that use a
subcarrier (I suppose those who use 300 and 1200 baud modems
should be immune). The virus then attaches itself to all binary
incoming data and infects the host computer’s hard disk. The
only way to get rid of this virus is to completely reset all the
modem registers by hand, but I haven’t found a way to vaccinate
a modem against the virus, but there is the possibility of
building a subcarrier filter. I am calling on a 1200 baud modem
to enter this message, and have advised the sysops of the two
other boards (names withheld). I don’t know how this virus
originated, but I’m sure it is the work of someone in the
computer telecommunications field such as myself. Probably the
best thing to do now is to stick to 1200 baud until we figure
this thing out. Mike RoChenle

So what should you do if you receive a warning about some
horrible virus? Generally, if these demand to be sent to
everyone you know, it’s a hoax. If you are unsure, then check
out the following site:

Symantic Antivirus Research Center – http://www.sarc.com

Go to the search page and enter a few words from the message
claiming to warn you about a horrible virus. Behold, you will
now read about the hoax. In fact, here’s the datasheet on the
virus mentioned at the start of this article:

http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data

/wtc.survivor.hoax.html

In any event, hoax or not, it’s a good idea to just file the
email or delete it. Don’t send it on to all of your friends.
Don’t do anything dramatic. These things only gain power when
people give them power.

In other words, maintain your reason and don’t give in to an
emotional response which simply floods email inboxes with junk.

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  • Posted On April 19, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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