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Unwanted e-mail

Posted by TheFallen on May 04, 2002

In Reply to: Unwanted e-mail posted by R. Berg on May 04, 2002

: : : : : : I rec'd an email from an unknown sender. The message was merely this:


: : : : : : Should I be worried?

: : : : : The message simply reads "Hi! It's impossible to read your message. See you soon". Nothing too X-Files about that, but I suspect (and colour me paranoid) that it may be one of those virus-carrying e-mails that's phrased in such a way as to inspire you to open it. Now, although it's never been proven 100% to my satisfaction that the mere act of opening an e-mail can give you a virus (of COURSE opening an attachment can give you a whole host of nasty things), I've had people a lot more computer-savvy than I assure me that this is in fact possible, especially if using Microsoft's Outlook. My advice... just to be on the safe side, get yourself a good virus checker, and always delete any e-mail unopened if you don't recognise the sender. Personally speaking, I'd always recommend using *any* other e-mail client apast from MS Outlook, because, this being the default client offered to Windows users, most viruses (virii?) are specifically created to self-propagate via Outlook.

: : : : Good advice. It's also worth noting that some viruses use your email address book to propogate themselves to your friends, so virus checking is a must.

: : : Thanks. I love this site! Especially all of you who support the inquiries.

: : This isn't a phrase question. But it does relate to unwelcome e-mail. On a fairly routine basis, I get vile e-mail from porno sites, ads for devices to enhance penis size, etc. I mentioned this annoyance to my boss one day. He said he NEVER gets e-mail of that type and one would only receive such mail he/she had visited naughty sites. I don't know much about computer stuff but don't "they" have a way of collecting e-mail addresses or something?

: I don't know much about computer stuff either, but "they" send advertising to e-mail addresses they find on Web pages. Using the service at may get you off the master list where the ads are coming from.

: "The Internet for Dummies" says "The text of a plain text message can't contain a virus, because it's only text, and a virus is a (rather sneaky) program. But attachments can" (7th ed., p. 104).

That is undoubtedly true (re plain text e-mails). However, the problems with an e-mail client like Outlook have revolved round the fact that Microsoft in its infinitesimal wisdom seem to have decided, in an effort to make things easier for users, occasionally to automatically open or fire off attachments that are of a "known file type" to Windows - so .pif files for example or .scr files could be used as carriers for viral payloads. This has certainly been true of older versions of Outlook, so it's very important to keep that client fully current with Microsoft's all-too-frequent Windows security updates. Another favourite trick is for viruses to be called something like readme.txt.vbs - if your Windows is set up *not* to display extensions for known file types (and Windows *will* know what a *.vbs file is), then the file will appear in your e-mail attachment folder as readme.txt... so you unthinkingly double-click on it, expecting a text file to open up, and wham... the Visual Basic Script executes, and you're infected.

Not at all do do with phrases, I know, but it seemed worth adding this.

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