Computer Viruses

I’m getting up to 100 emails a day. Most of these are viruses and spam, and are filtered straight into the trash because they are sent to an email address which the spammers have invented or a virus has randomly generated (all mail sent to comes to me). Others I see, but they have become obvious and predictable and I delete them with hardly a glance at their contents.

One had a dangerous twist though. At the bottom of the (brief) email it included these lines:

++++ Attachment: No Virus found

++++ Norman AntiVirus –

This is very similar to the standard lines that many anti-virus programs automatically put into incoming email to let you know whether it’s clean or not. I had never heard of Norman anti-virus, and even thought it was a joke, since one of the popular anti-virus packages is from Norton. In any case, my anti-virus is AVG, so I knew this message was spurious. In fact, AVG had added these lines at the true end of the message:

Viruses found in the attached files.

The attached file ou.doc .exe is infected by I-Worm/Netsky.Q. The attachment was moved to the virus vault.”

So… even if a mysterious email with an attachment claims to be clean, don’t trust it. Make sure that it has truly been inspected and passed by your own anti-virus software. And again: NEVER OPEN AN ATTACHMENT THAT YOU’RE NOT EXPECTING TO RECEIVE, NO MATTER WHO IT COMES FROM OR WHAT IT CLAIMS TO BE.

I visited the Norman site, and find that they do indeed make anti-virus software. Since I had never heard of them before, I am tempted to wonder if they are spreading this virus themselves as a publicity stunt. Especially since I’ve just received a very similar email, but with the name of a different virus protection software company, again one I’d never heard of. Hmm.

Another thing to watch out for: spyware.

Then there are viruses whose random text hits below the belt:
“you are a bad writer”
“Let’us be short: you have no experience in writing letters!!!”

July 5, 2004

In light of Microsoft’s ongoing problems with hackers targeting its products, it seems wise to get as far away from Microsoft as possible, within the limits of the fact that many of us need to use Windows for our daily work. Last week’s reports of of a new hack which allows attackers to take control of your computer via Microsoft Internet Explorer finally jolted me into something I’ve been meaning to do for a while: change browsers. I took the advice of the Washington Posts’s tech columnist, and have switched to Mozilla Firefox. So far I find it very similar to IE in look, feel, and behavior, minus the dangers of hackers (for now).


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