On Viruses, etc.


Mike Israel

--- Bill Connelly <billiam@erols.com> wrote:
> Sure, this is "off-topic", but the latest rash of
> viruses and subsequent
> hoax warnings thereof does make a quick rundown of
> the realities of the
> situation timely. I have
> taken some excerpts ...

First off, thanks to Bill for taking the time to write
up his message. While Bill may not be the list owner
/ admin he has been one of the most valued
contributors since day #1 and plays a key role in
keeping it alive and well.

Regarding the subject of viruses. Yahoogroups does
indeed trap many of these. I have no administrative
control over how effective their software may or may
not be.

When you subscribe to this, or any other list you are
essentially agreeing to receive e-mail from strangers.
There are almost 300 list members and any one may
join. It thus makes sense that if you are accepting
e-mail from strangers you should indeed be using virus
protection software. You might also seriously
consider a Yahoomail or Hotmail account for e-mail
from this or any other list. Yahoo mail, for example,
uses Norton anti-virus to scan all attachments before
they are downloaded to your PC.

Note that as the list has grown many people have added
specific list members to their personal address book.
I have noticed that many of the viruses recently
trapped by the list (i.e. not distributed to list
members) are still being passed from person to person
directly. A typical e-mail virus will, unbenknownst
the the sender, replicate itself to all persons found
in your personal address book. As Bill noted, the
sender rarely knows he is transmitting the infected
message. The point here is that if Bill Smith is in
your personal address book, he will get the infected
message directly from you even if the list re-mailer
blocks it from going to other list members.

As for virus hoaxes I will not repeat what others have
said. Do keep in mind that there is almost never a
legitimate need to urgently warn everyone you know
about a deadly new virus. If an e-mail tells you to
alert the world, treat it as supect and confirm the

Happy Holidays

Mike Israel


Send your FREE holiday greetings online!

Bill Connelly

Sure, this is "off-topic", but the latest rash of viruses and subsequent
hoax warnings thereof does make a quick rundown of the realities of the
situation timely. As a point of departure, I have taken some excerpts from
recent comments to this List and added some clarifications. Obviously, a
quick posting to this List cannot hope to cover all of the issues involved
in "Safe Computing", so for more information and fuller explanations, folks
might want to visit:

CNet's "Virus Center":
Trend Micro's "Safe Computing Guide":

...but here's the quick lowdown on this List and on avoiding digital
creepy-crawlies based on earlier comments read here:

COMMENT: "[...] and now I'm subject to bugs in the club's email."

THE REAL LOWDOWN: The Amphicar-Lovers List is NOT run by the Club. Sure,
I'd bet that most subscribers ARE Club members, but the Club actually has
absolutely no say in this List's operation or administration. Sure, we're
proud to encourage this List as the Internet's preeminent forum for online
Amphicar discussion, fellowship and technical advice by offering links to
easily subscribe to this List on the Club's home page, but that's really
where it ends. Mike Israel "runs" this Amphicar-Lovers List.

COMMENT: "Those withs the bugs please STOP sending your mail until you
figure out some sanitary computer hygiene."

THE REAL LOWDOWN: Those with infected machines probably do not KNOW they
are infected until informed of the matter by a virus recipient...and even
then there's the very real possibility that the so-called sender address is
a "spoof", and the alleged sender's machine may not be the one infected at
all. Here's how it works: The newest types of worm viruses typically operate
by "hijacking" an infected machine's Outlook or Outlook Express email
address book or by mining for email addresses included in the HTML codings
left hanging around in the browser cache. The virus will then typically send
out dozens and dozens of messages to the addresses it gathers without the
owner even knowing about it, often the message sent contains random text
gleaned from a file in the 'My Documents' folder with a virus "payload"
connected to the message as an attachment. If any recipient is silly enough
to open, launch or double-click the attachment, well then: PRESTO! Another
machine is infected and the process begins again. As mentioned earlier, one
of the more fiendish new tricks that such viruses can play is to "spoof" or
forge a sender address, pretending that the email was sent from another
address (gleaned from the infected machine's address book or browser cache).
So if you suddenly start getting irate messages from folks about how your
computer is infected, it's time for a sober reality check and a good
thorough scanning to see if it's really the case. Of course, if you're not
running up-to-date virus scanning software, or you're in the habit of just
clicking open email attachments, even from friends, then your rig probably
IS clapped up. Tip: Get a virus scanner and keep it's "virus definitions"
updated weekly. These definitions are how the scanning program recognizes
viruses...hundreds of new ones every month. Keeping these current is
crucial, and typically rather easy to do with these scanning programs' "Live
Update" feature. Remember: last month's virus scanner is no damned use
against this month's viruses. Here's a direct link or a "Trialware" demo
freebie of "Norton Antivirus 2002", which according to both PC Magazine and
CNet is the best of the breed: http://nct1.digitalriver.com/fulfill/0001.14
. Here you can try before you buy, and in a month or so it'll prompt you to
purchase it for real and even walk you through the purchase on line.

COMMENT: "[...] The Yahoo club bulletin board has more diseases than a ten
dollar Tijuana call girl. hopefully the system admin can clean it up and
prevent further infections... even if it means pulling the plug on those
responsible. Sorry for taking such a hard line, but enough is enough."

THE REAL LOWDOWN: ?Ay Car-rrrumba! There's no need or even any real point
blacklisting perceived senders of viruses, particularly when, as described,
it may not even be their machines that are infected, but another machine
pretending to be some random email address found in an infected machine's
Outlook address book or even browser cache. As for real pre-distribution
List scanning measures, I imagine there's really not a lot that the
Amphicar-Lovers List's Adminstrator, Mike Israel, can about the real "guts"
of the List system other than urge the host service, "Yahoogroups!", to
install more efficient virus scanning systems. In the end, it still boils
down to everyone maintaining their own machine's health and safety. There's
a lot of "scary" misinformation out there (including plausible-sounding duct
tape tips! :), but the following general digital hygiene rules will always
you well:

1. Get a good virus scanner and keep it updated.
2. Don't just click open email attachments, no matter what they purport to
be or who they're from. If you really MUST open an attachment from your
Aunt Sally, whether it's "recipe.doc" or "destroyallnephews.exe" then DO
first copy it into a new directory or better yet a diskette and scan it
there (remember to remove the diskette before shutting down your machine!).
Even then,
you should first make awfully damned sure that your virus scanning
"definitions" are right up to date.
3. If you run any flavor of Windows, then DO keep up with those "Windows
Critical Updates". These typically contain lots of major patches to keep
other digital creepy-crawlies at bay. For more info, see:
http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ and click "PRODUCT UPDATES". Tip: you
don't need to install EVERYTHING available there. I mean, do you really
want to chat online in Ancient Icelandic with Norwegian menus in your
browser? But the
"Critical Updates and Service Packs" are a "must".

Once again, this has been just the very briefest of overviews. For more
detailed info, please visit:

CNet's "Virus Center":
Trend Micro's "Safe Computing Guide":

Intermediate-to-advanced so-called "Windows Power Users" will also enjoy:

Langa List: http://www.langa.com/ (Tip: subscribe to Fred's excellent free

Hope this helps anyone who might have been a little fuzzy on just what to


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