Re: New Virus Alert! - Posted by NickEaston
Posted by NickEaston on May 08, 1999 at 20:07:19:
Subject: Email Virus Warning
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the issue of getting viruses by downloading something or reading email. You can not get a virus simply by downloading something or by reading email. Email is a text-only medium and therefore it is impossible to get a virus simply by reading email.
You can get a virus by opening an email attachment which is an executable file and then executing it. Examples of this are “funny” games that get circulated as executable email attachments. Once launched, they are potentially very damaging to the computer system.
However, there is a destructive practice of sending email warning people about virus infections that are not only fake, but also impossible. These are designed to destroy confidence in the Internet as a medium of communication by instilling fear in those who use it. Please see the attached article.
E-Mail Viruses by Lance Jensen
C Lance Jensen Technical Support Manager Executive Software International, Inc.
Windows NT Technical Article 2 November 1998 “Handling Viruses”
We all know about computer viruses, and many people are quite worried about them, but they are not really dangerous if you understand them and take reasonable precautions.
I’m sure you have all received e-mails warning you of dire consequences if you read an e-mail whose subject is “Good News!” or “AOL4FREE” or something like that. These are hoaxes intended to damage free communication by making people afraid to use e-mail. When you consider the time wasted reading and forwarding such things, they are as destructive as the real thing.
It is not possible – NOT POSSIBLE – to get a virus by just reading an e-mail, unless the e-mail contains a macro or attachment that you then execute.
Here are two simple rules that, if followed, will protect you from any e-mailed virus:
If you ever read a mail message and you get a warning that alerts you that the mail contains macros, make sure that you select the option to disable macros before you continue.
If you ever receive a mail message from someone you do not know and that mail contains an attachment, do not open the attachment till you have made sure the attachment does not contain a virus. There are programs on the market that can be used to check such things.
You should also be aware that both Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word have a built-in macro checker that will alert you to the existence of a macro in a file that you open as long as you do not disable this function.
The next time you get one of these hoaxes, instead of forwarding it, please reply to it with this article.
Sources of Viruses
Computer viruses are not as common as most people believe, and rather easy to avoid. Commercial software on commercial CD-ROMs is almost guaranteed to be virus-free, but any software on floppy disks or non-commercial CDs can be a risk. Anyone can make floppies and non-commercial CDs, and can put anything they want on them. It doesn’t matter who wrote the program; someone else can add to it or alter it. Commercial CDs have data, usually the name of the company that burns the CDs, burned into the inside track and visible to the naked eye. Recordable CDs lack this, and usually have a batch number on the unsilvered area of the hub. Be wary of any CD that lacks this identification, and certainly of anything with a stick-on label. Of course, even a commercial CD could be infected, since a criminal could hack into the manufacturer’s system and plant a virus before the CD master is made, but this is extremely unlikely.
By far the most common source of a virus infection is downloaded software. Anything downloaded can be infected, even from big, reliable, long-established companies. It’s not easy for criminals to break into such systems, and it certainly is very rare, but it has been done. A public bulletin board (BBS) is probably the easiest place to plant a virus. A good Sysop (the System Operator for the BBS) can keep the BBS clean, but some are careless.
Some viruses attach themselves to programs on the infected system, and are transmitted to other systems when the programs are copied. If a friend gives you a copy of a program, check it for a virus, even if you trust your friend; their system may be infected.