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Virus Victims

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004 by | Filed Under: Security Help

Virus Victims

A reader named Scott recently received an email with an attachment from someone he didn’t know . He writes, “I didn’t open since it had not been scanned for viruses due to encryption. The attachment also ended in .exe, which is another reason I didn’t open it having been warned by friends and your newsletter that it could contain a virus. I hit ‘Reply’ to ask the sender for more info about himself and the purpose of his mail before I continued and got back an angry email to the extent that the sender didn’t know who I was and that they had never sent me an email. I took up the fray and countered by emailing him that any more mails from him and I would alert the authorities. So far, no more mailings. But I’m curious. This guy’s obviously angry and overly-defensive response to my inquiry has started me thinking that perhaps he’s up to no good. I’ve deleted the attachment…We might have some dangerous nut-case somewhere out there, or perhaps I’m a little paranoid.”

Well, it’s a good thing he didn’t open it and I’m glad that our advice was helpful. If you get an infected email though, don’t yell at the person whose name is shown as the sender because they are a victim too. He probably gets hundreds of Mailer-Daemon emails telling him that emails he never sent failed to go through, or autoresponders telling him that he sent a virus.

The way these viruses and trojan horses work is that they scan a computer and harvest email addresses from the address book, emails, and files on your computer. Then it grabs a random email address to use as the sender. Finally, it mails copies of itself to every email addy it found.

So, most likely, Scott had a friend who got infected, the virus chose that other person as a sender and he became one of the lucky recipients. No one is dumb enough to use their own address to send viruses, so keep this in mind and just delete them.

Stay safe out there

~ David

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