The SARS virus could threaten your health…or the health of your computer. A new program making the rounds of the Internet pretends to offer useful information about the illness sweeping Asia, according to DMACC computer programming instructor Jeff Gullion. They’re linking the medical virus with a computer virus, and he says this combines both. Gullion says the plotters behind this kind of email attack use “social engineering” to entice a reader to open email from a stranger and take steps that will unleash its destructive program. They want you to want to open it, because you have to run these to activate the computer virus, and this is a common way of setting such a trap by preying on human feelings. Everyone with an e-mail account has learned to delete “spam,” unwanted electronic junk mail, but Gullion says it can be hard to identify, and the new virus comes with an intriguing headline.He says you might see “What you need to know about the SARS Virus,” or “To Protect Yourself, Click Here,” some header that’ll make you think about opening the message. It’s virtually impossible to track down such purveyors of destructive programs. Many new viruses are permutations of former ones, just changed a bit, and the actual writers are very hard to identify. Gullion says like many other computer attacks, this one will seek out the “address book” a user has stored in the widely-used mail program Microsoft Outlook Express and send itself to everyone on your list, masquerading as a friendly e-mail from you. Be wary of any email titled “corona-virus” or containing an attachment that includes an e-x-e file name.
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