Archive for October, 2007

Postcard Virus and a Related Hoax

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

I just got one of those emails with a dire warning about a new virus presenting itself as email indicating that I had received a “postcard” from a family member. There is a serious postcard email threat, but this email mixed information about a hoax email and the more serious problem of a spam/virus problem that went rampant this past summer. Both are serious concerns, but the hoax email just clutters my inbox (and scares people).

Basically the hoax says that a news report has just come out that says a new virus has come out and there is no cure. It locks up your computer. Then when you hit ctl+alt+del it erases “sector 0” on your harddrive. You can read more at : http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/virtualcard.asp (There is no sector 0 that when erased will destroy your hard drive.)

The other email is far more serious and deserves a little bit of information: http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/postcard.asp

The glue that holds these two emails together for the casual observer is that both refer to a “postcard” in the subject line. The actual bad item shows up with a subject line idicating you have just received a postcard (or holiday card, etc.) from a family member (or trusted friend, or co-worker, etc.) The hoax email will mimick this email to a certain extent.

Although I may appear to some to be nit-picking, I really do take these types of threats very seriously. I had one of these @#$W$ things take over my computer a couple of years ago and I lost a few days of my valuable work time dealing with it and had to do a bunch re-installs, lost some documents, etc. So I have particularly strong opinion against these @$%@ guys. Your best defenses is to

  • keep your PC operating system up-to-date
  • keep your anti-virus software up-to-date
  • avoid opening these types of emails

If you open one of these emails, if it is from a reputable company, you will have an access code and web address where you can go to see the postcard. There should be less chance of getting a virus/spam/worm etc. following this approach, rather than opening the link in the email itself.

You can get more information about Microsoft updates at http://www.microsoft.com/protect/computer/updates/automatic.mspx. (Once you click on the appropriate link for the operating system you have, you actually get some helpful information—unlike some of Microsoft’s very bad help screens.)

How do you know what operating system you have?

Vista: where it used to say “Start”, you will have a circular icon surrounding the familiar windows symbol

Some Version of XP:

  • Click on the “start” button (usually at the bottom left of your screen)
  • RIGHT click on the icon/text for “My Computer” (if you have this icon on your desktop, you do the same thing there)
  • From the pop-up menu click “Properties”

There are so many different versions of anti-virus software I’m not really going to go into much detail on ensuring that it is up-to-date. However, most of them have an option in their main menu that you can select to do updates. (They like to encourage you to keep things up-to-date through a subscription service.)

I hope this helps at least a few folks.

    Please come back when we have finished our re-branding and have republished this site