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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  May 1997

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION May 1997

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Subject:

AOL4FREE virus warning (long)

From:

"Mike Lacey" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Fri, 2 May 1997 09:59:17 GMT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (132 lines)

I'm afraid it seems that Frank Shaw has been the victim of a hoax. 
Below is some text taken from the US Department of Energy's Computer 
Incident Advisory Capability web-pages, describing the e-mail 
message that Frank has just forwarded. 

It is worth noting that there is a Trojan Horse program that also 
goes under the name of AOL4FREE.COM that *will* delete the C:\ 
directory on your hard drive if run on your computer - again, full 
details are given below.

There are a couple of useful websites that can be checked for hoax 
virus warnings, the URLs as follows:

http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIACHoaxes.html
[from which the information below was taken]

http://www.kumite.com/myths

Also, I think that many of the commercial anti-virus software 
companies also include information on hoaxes on their homepages, 
although I don't have the relevant URLs.

I apologise for the length of this e-mail, but hope it has been of 
some help.

Cheers,

Mike

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------


AOL4FREE actually consists of three separate, independent items:

1. The AOL4FREE Macintosh Program for gaining fraudulent accounts on 
AOL

2. The AOL4FREE Virus Warning Hoax.

3. The AOL4FREE.COM Trojan horse program that deletes all the files on 
your hard drive.



1. The AOL4FREE Macintosh Program was originally written to provide 
illegal free access to America Online.  

In the March 1997 issue of the CSI Computer Security Alert the 
following statement was made concerning the creator of that program:

"A former Yale computer science student has pleaded guilty to 
defrauding America Online. AOL estimates it lost between $40,000 and 
$70,000 inservice charges because the student distributed his 
computer program, AOL4FREE, to hundreds of other users."

Note that any attempt to use the original AOL4FREE.COM program may 
subject you to prosecution.

2. The second item is the AOL4FREE Virus Warning Hoax message. 
The following message has been circulating around the Internet, 
warning of a virus infected e-mail message:

************************************************************************************

   VIRUS ALERT!!!
     DON'T OPEN E-MAIL NOTING "AOL4FREE"

Anyone who receives this must send it to as many people as you can.  
It is essential that this problem be reconciled as soon as possible.  
A few hours ago, I opened an E-mail that had the subject heading of 
"AOL4FREE.COM". Within seconds of opening it, a window appeared and 
began to display my files that were being deleted.  I immediately shut 
down my computer, but it was too late.  This virus wiped me out.  It 
ate the Anti-Virus Software that comes with the Windows '95 Program 
along with F-Prot AVS.  Neither was able to detect it. Please be 
careful and send this to as many people as possible, so maybe this   
new virus can be eliminated.

************************************************************************************

This message has several problems that identify it as a hoax.

A virus like program can not spread in an e-mail message. While an 
infected program could be attached to an e-mail message, the e-mail 
message itself cannot contain one in any form that could be executed.
A virus or Trojan horse program can not infect a system by simply 
being read. The current mail readers do not execute an e-mail message, 
they display it on the screen for you to read. You must take care when 
downloading an attachment to an e-mail message.In some mail readers 
you can double click on the attachment icon tohave it extracted and 
opened by whatever program created it. If that attachment is a 
program, it is downloaded and run,and running any program you have 
not scanned could cause you to be infected with a virus.

While this warning message is a hoax, the things it describes could be
accomplished with a Trojan horse program. That Trojan horse could 
then be attached to an e-mail message and if the reader downloads and 
executes the Trojan horse program, it could do the damage described in 
this message. In fact, someone has done that as is explained below.


3. The third item is the AOL4FREE.COM Trojan Horse. This program
appears to be the AOL4FREE program that creates fraudulent AOL accounts
(though it is a DOS program instead of a Macintosh program) but is 
actually a simple compiled DOS batch file that runs the DOS DELTREE 
command on the C:\ directory of a DOS/Windows machine. The DELTREE 
command deletes all files in a directory, including the directory itself
and any subdirectories in that directory. The effect is to delete all
files on the C: drive of a DOS/Windows machine. If you should come across
this program from any source, do not run it. For more information see 
CIAC Bulletin H-47a [http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/bulletins/h-47a.shtml]:
AOL4FREE.COM Trojan Horse Program Destroys Hard Drives.

CIAC ALWAYS recommends that software downloaded onto a computer from 
any source (BBS, e-mail attachment, floppy, web) be scanned with 
antivirus software prior to being run.  Note that most antivirus 
software does not detect Trojans, so it is important to know where 
your software came from before executing it.

Mike Lacey
Professional Librarian
Heslop Room Pre-1851 Retrospective Conversion Team,
Main Library,
University of Birmingham,
Edgbaston,
Birmingham B15 2TT.

Tel: (0121) 414 5835
E-mail: [log in to unmask]


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