Some True Virus Stories
- Categorized in: Online Security
We don't normally like to write about viruses, and we especially don't like the email hoaxes that go around about "virus warnings". But we've got a couple of true stories that have either happened to us or to someone we know, that serve as another reminder why proper anti-virus software is essential.
Story Number One
We know of someone locally who was seeking a grant of government money, and had sought assistance to prepare a business plan. It included his financial projections, and just as importantly, a clear outline of both his suppliers and clients. It was a reasonable plan that had included some substantial, supportable market research.
The business idea was new, so he was still moving by stealth to get his venture up and happening before others moved on his markets or in any other way countered his intentions. He was active in the organisation of his industry, and so was on both the state industry group and the national industry group. Because of this he had the names of most of his suppliers, most of his clients, and most of his competitors nationwide in his email address list.
Unfortunately what happened next is enough to make any business person tremble.
His computer was infected by a virus - one of the type that emails itself automatically to everyone in your address book. What this virus normally did though, was to take a document at random (usually the last document you worked on) and include it in the email it sent out. In this case, it grabbed a copy of his business plan, and emailed it to everyone in his address book. The first he heard about it was when he started to get phone calls and emails from everyone, including his competitors, asking why he had emailed them a copy of his business plan.
This is an unfortunate story, but one that clearly demonstrates the need to protect yourself against those kinds of replicating viruses. Needless to say, in this case the damage was horrendous.
Story Number Two
This one involves something that happened to us, just recently (and even now), as certain viruses fill up everyone's email inbox with irrelevant and fake emails.
For those of you who haven't encountered a virus like this yet, you probably will soon. They are doing the rounds at the moment in great volumes. Some of the things they can do include grabbing a document or email off your computer, emailing itself to people it finds on your pc (eg. in your address book), and placing a fake email address in the sender section. This fake email address can be obtained by finding addresses on your system and then making an address out of them.
This has resulted in some strange and frightening emails appearing in everyone's inboxes.
Firstly, our Inbox on occasion has been flooded with copies of bookings, letters, private documents, and so on, that have come from people's computers around the south west. We know they are from the south west, because they contain information about specific south west locations and services, and some of the information is quite confidential and private. But we often cannot tell where they are coming from because of the fake email address attached. Which leads us to the second problem.
The emails that have been arriving in our Inbox (as with thousands of other people), are fake. But sometimes they do contain partly legitimate addresses. We ourselves have been caught up in this mess, as at one point the Bugbear virus seemed to have found a particularly large email list and emailed itself out using the name email@example.com. This email address does not exist, but people don't know that, and so we have been receiving complaints from people who have received a virus, apparently from firstname.lastname@example.org, and want to complain.
The moral of this second story might be that if you receive a virus, don't automatically assume that the sender actually sent it. It's quite possible that the virus came from someone else who is infected, who has your email address in their address book, and the email address is a fake (or perhaps even real, but it's not from the actual owner of that address).
So what can we learn from these two real life stories? Computer viruses are part of doing business on the Internet. But you CAN be well protected quite easily. I'm glad to say that in all the years we have been doing business on the Internet, we are yet to be compromised by a virus. All of our emails are scanned when they come in, they are all scanned when they go out, and our anti-virus package is updated as soon as the anti-virus company issues an update (usually once or twice a week).
And we don't have a particularly fancy package either. For under $100, you too can be just as well protected against the kinds of unfortunate scenarios outlined above
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