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10. System Administrator Scam

You just got a letter from your System Administrator advising of a problem. Should you follow the instructions in the letter?

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Imagine our surprise when we received a letter from our mail administrator advising of a problem with our account. There was an attachment with instructions, along with a password. A few things about this letter let us know it was a fake, but how many less knowledgeable people might have been fooled by this?

  • The salutation is rather odd: "Dear user of e-mail server..." is not the way to open a letter.
  • The language of the text is rather technical sounding, especially for an audience that may be non-technical.
  • The text is in "Pigeon English": Language very choppy and, laced with extra, commas.
  • There is no account "Staff @ Eagle-Wing.Net" within our mail system. The send-to address was valid, however.

The main clue to a problem is that we host our own e-mail system. We are our own administrator and we did not write this note. This is the Beagle virus. It can inflict major damage upon your computer as it infects executable files, drastically alters the Registry, and searches for mail addresses to which it can mail itself using the SMTP server that it neatly installs on your computer!

Beagle (also called Bagle) comes with a variety of message lines and attchments. The attachments we received did not scan as having a virus but there is no way would we open them to see what they really were. We may be crazy, slaving over a hot Website every day, but we aren't totally stupid!

Then we received a variant on the same theme. It was addressed to a nonexistent account, but the name was similar to a real account at this domain. Note that the sending mailbox "Management @ Eagle-Wing.Net" is also bogus.

The attachment was caught by Zone Alarm, our firewall, and the file extension automatically changed to .zlo. The padlock shows this file is quarantined.

This last note came about the same time the others did. Once again it is from a bogus account but this time the Send To address was valid. Zone Alarm flagged the attachment as having a virus.

We have not a clue what the authors of this virus are trying to accomplish with all of this. The big tip-off to a problem is the crude use of the English language. It is only a matter of time until the virus writers improve their writing style. Vigilance and discernment are the most effective tools against this sort of thing.

We currently receive between 150 and 200 pieces of junk mail (spam) every day and the number is climbing noticeably every week. Some of it contains a virus like this one. Others just contain marketing offers and business opportunities.

We can imagine some fitting penalties if these spammers and virus authors are ever caught. These would involve third rails and sensitive body parts, hungry carnivores, ants and honey, and having to listen to elevator music 24 x 7. Survivors would be severely punished.


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