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The Tentacle


August 7, 2002

Warning, Spam Isn't Just A Meat Dish Anymore!

Al Duke

Spam is one of the most irritating aspects of being on-line. University degrees, investment information and stock tips, and loans are just a few of the subjects of this harassing inbox filler. Not to mention the possible outright scams that may come your way - I received one recently entitled "Your account information."

Well, I was curious, so I disconnected from the Internet and then opened it. It was a stock tip, but it was very, very persistent in trying to call the Internet back, until I deleted it.

Then there are those spam emails that are sent by well-meaning people but that just add to the cyberclutter. When people receive warnings of viruses that claim major damage to files, software, and hard drive, they want to let their friends know. They send these warnings to major segments of their address book, continuing the chain.

   "If you receive an email titled "It Takes Guts to Say 'Jesus', DO NOT OPEN IT. It will erase everything on your hard drive. This information was announced on 21 April by IBM stating that this is a very dangerous virus, much worse than "Melissa", and that there is NO remedy for it this time."

Well, in this day and age it might take guts to say Jesus publicly in the manner in which His Name should be taken, but it also takes guts to send an email back to your friend saying that this supposed virus is a hoax.

      Dear Friends,
      We have been unwittingly just infected with a virus from someone's email.
      THIS Klez Worm VIRUS SENDS ITSELF TO ALL THE ADDRESSES IN THE ADDRESS BOOK OF THE COMPUTER IT HAS ARRIVED AT. Take the time and remove it now…. It is said that the virus HIDES in the computer for 2 weeks and then DAMAGES THE DISC IRREPARABLY.
      The virus is called sulfnbk.exe. Many apologies for the trouble it is causing.

This, too, is a hoax. But it is a hoax with a problem. The file sulfnbk.exe is a real utility file that exists on some MS Windows Operating Systems. Any .exe file can become infected with a virus, but this particular warning can safely be ignored.

For more information on these and more than 125 other identified virus hoaxes, you can visit this Symantec Corporation web site:

www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html

Symantec Corporation has done an excellent job or researching virus hoaxes and educating the Internet public about this problem. The above examples are taken from that web site, though the information can be found on almost any anti-virus web site.

On another topic, here's a question for you - how many times did Kevin Archer die?

Poor 3-year-old Kevin ate at a fast food restaurant in Texas then played in the ball-pit area. Later he told his mother that he hurt. At the emergency room a broken off hypodermic needle was found in his left buttock and he died later on the evening of October 2, 1994, of a heroin overdose. But then again, as the Urban Legend Resource Center notes, on October 2, 1999, two other Kevin Archers died in separate towns in Texas of identical circumstances.

And who hasn't seen the picture of the young man on the observation deck of one of the Twin Towers moments before the airplane struck it on September 11, 2001. That picture flooded the Internet in the weeks following the attack. Most of the copies of it I received started off something like, "This poor young man…."

Well, if you want to understand why this is a fake or to get the scoop on poor young Kevin Archer, this Australian Urban Legends web site is an excellent place to go. The analysis given to the fake airplane picture is very detailed.

http://www.ulrc.com.au/

So, when you receive an email that warns of danger, before you send it off to your friends, and add to the email glut, research it on these, or similar, web sites. And gently pass the word back to the sender.



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