Copyright 2002, Rick Macmurchie - February 6, 2002

Misleading Anti-Virus Information

I received the following message recently, it seems to be circulating widely in e-mail right now.

I received a computer trick today that's really ingenious in its simplicity(I hope it works). As you may know, when/if a worm virus gets into your computer it heads straight for your email address book and sends itself to everyone in there, thus infecting all your friends and associates.

This trick won't keep the virus from getting into your computer, but it will stop it
from using your address book to spread further, and it will alert you to the fact that the worm has gotten into your system.

Here's what you do: first, open your address book and click on "new contact" just as you would do if you were adding a new friend to your list of email addresses. In the window where you would type your friend's first name, type in !000 (that's an exclamation mark followed by 3 zeros). In the window below where it prompts you to enter the new email address, type in WormAlert. Then complete everything by clicking add, enter, ok, etc.

Now, here's what you've done and why it works: the "name" !000 will be placed at the top of your address book as entry #1. This will be where the worm will start in an effort to send itself to all your friends. But when it tries to send itself to !000, it will be undeliverable because of the phony email address you entered (WormAlert). If the first attempt fails (which it will because of the phony address), the worm goes no further and your friends will not be infected.

Here's the second great advantage of this method: if an email cannot be delivered, you will be notified of this in your InBox almost immediately. Hence, if you ever get an email telling you that an email addressed to WormAlert could not be delivered, you know right away that you have the worm virus in your system. You can then take steps to get rid of it! Pretty slick,eh?.

At first glance this seems to be good advice but if you rely on this to protect yourself against email worms, you may be disappointed with the results.

Most worms in current circulation will indeed try to send a message to the bogus email address, but the worms do not use the email capabilities of your email software, they have built-in mailing capabilities. There will not be any indication of the worm's activity in your Out Box, In Box or Sent Items, and the worm will not stop because one address is bad.

I would suggest not giving yourself a false sense of security by doing what this email suggests, and not forwarding the message to others.

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Rick Macmurchie
(250) 658-6319

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