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Strange Observation


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2 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_Maedrochon_*

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Posted 17 November 2004 - 06:55 PM

I'm referring to a post on HowToFixComputers.com about an intimidating email that mentions an attachment but there is no attachment:

http://www.howtofixc...utra325571.html

I received an almost identical email except that the apparent author is "Marvin" from rackspace.net. We may chuckle about running the attached .EXE file when there is none, but notice that several days have elapsed between the above post and my receipt of a copy. What then is propagating this email? One would expect that the missing attachment would be the mass-mailing software, but it is not there to execute. It could be that someone else picked up the email, altered it and passed it along, but that seems doubtful. Why is this email acting like it's a mass-mailing virus even when it doesn't appear to have a payload? Could it be using slyware techniques to plant a mass-mailing trojan on your computer simply by opening the email?

I apologize if this is not the proper forum (if so, please move it to a correct one), and I don't mean to raise a level of paranoia here, I'm just curious about how this thing is moving around without a motor. :scratch:

Edited by Maedrochon, 17 November 2004 - 07:52 PM.

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#2 Angoid

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Posted 18 November 2004 - 02:24 PM

Hi Maedrochon,

I confess I haven't seen this e-mail, and I can't get the link you refer to right now - maybe the site is down or something.

Is the e-mail HTML or plain text?

Given I know nothing concrete, I can only guess and work from past experience.
  • It's a "mind virus". That is, it has no electronic motor but a biological one! In other words, it works by making realistic threatening statements that something dire is going to happen to its recipients unless it's propagated to everyone in their address book, and gullible people fall for it. Chain mail can be thought of as "mind viruses".
  • If it contains HTML and especially images, it could contain "web bugs" (aka "web beacons"). These are any image (especially transparent single-pixel GIF images, thus totally invisible) that contact the home server when downloaded and sends your e-mail address, encoded, in a querystring so they can harvest e-mail addreseses from victims.
  • There's code (e.g. embedded JavaScript) that initiates a download of some malicious code, thus the malicious code is not actually sent with the e-mail itself).
As I say, they're guesses but they might point in the right direction!
If you don't know what eschatology is then don't worry; it's not the end of the world.

#3 Guest_Maedrochon_*

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Posted 18 November 2004 - 10:28 PM

I tried the link myself and found that it loaded very slowly. If someone is intersted, I can post the text of the email I received. As to being a "mind virus" - ummm... Don't think so. There's no plea to pass it on, or to reply. Nor is the cited program a link to anywhere else. If there was any javascript with the email, my web based email reader may have stripped it out. It's possible that some recipients get the javascript and others don't. Those that do, pass the email on. It just seems funny that the email acts like a virus without looking like one.

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