May 14, 2001-- Newsletter #130

By Joe Burns

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May 14, 2001--Newsletter #130

This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

My PDA arrived. Sorry I couldn't tell those of who wrote what kind I bought but I really didn't know. Now I do. It's a Handspring brand running the Palm OS. Apparently it's a good one because the university radio station manager, who lives by his by the way, said it was a really good one.

I've turned it on, set the date and time, entered some phone numbers and tried the alarm function. That's about it at this point.

Further updates as events warrant.

Did you hear

Oh dear this will certainly mess everything up. The story goes that Danish officials are preparing a law that will make it legal, yes, legal, to download music off of the Internet. The catch is that you must only download for personal use and may not share the files you download. Yeah? And? The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the global equal to the RIAA here in the U.S.A. is all upset. If the law passes, which it seems it will, then one can basically launder music in Denmark. Someone may illegally post a song to the Web, but if it is downloaded in Denmark, it's legal. Oh, this is going to muddy the waters.

According to a conference in Ottawa, Canada, the Internet will run out of IP addresses by 2005. There are only 4 billion available you see. The conference is being held to discuss the new Internet protocol version 6 (Ipv6), which will offer a solution to the problem. You know what's funny about this? It won't be people who will take up most of the IP addresses in the near future, but appliances that are attached to the Web. Yes, refrigerators and toasters and cell phones will fill up the Web. Cool, huh?

Now onto today's topic

OK, this time it's serious.

The last couple of viruses I told you about were what were termed mid-level concerns. This latest has been rated serious. Once again it is a virus that spreads through an attached file that carries a VBS extension. Once again the thing spreads through Microsoft Outlook so it looks like a friend sent it. Once again it has a message suggesting, You have to see this. The subject line is once again nondescript. It simply reads, Homepage.

Once again, once again, once again

The Homepage virus, as its know from the subject line, is officially titled VBSWG.X. The virus itself is a lot like the Anna Kournikova virus that hit last February attacking well over a half million computers. Where this puppy is different is that when it's fired up it opens a bunch of porn sites all at once.

Kaboom.

I have to tell you, I am just stunned when another of these hits. It's just like the last ones. Oh sure, it does other things but it's still delivered the same way.

AND IT KEEPS GETTING PEOPLE!!!

Huh? It's the same darn thing.

Yes, I know that there are people that will open anything as long as they think it might be porn, but can the percentage of people really be that high? Can there really be a half million surfers out there that will keep running headlong into the same brick wall as long as we keep painting a different naked woman on it?

It seems odd that the virus is basically like the last ones but gets a serious rating from virus companies. I guess the reason is that even though it's basically the same delivery method, this one is working for some reason. It's already hit Europe with a vengeance.

I also think it's having such success because, just like the Kournikova virus, there's a fake legitimate extension before the VBS. The Kournikova virus had .jpg.vbs. I think I received 20 of them. This one has .HTML.vbs. Note that the HTML is in all caps too. Maybe people's eyes just stop at the known extension and never see the VBS. Either way, this one's getting through.

When asked about how to protect one's self from viruses, I've actually stopped telling people to look for the VBS extension. I now tell them to open nothing. I mean nothing. Period. If you get an attachment you didn't specifically ask for or don't recognize, call the person who sent it and verify what the thing is. If you don't know the person, don't open it. It's pretty much that simple. If you get a ton of attachments each day through your work, then look for that VBS extension. You should also look for the SRC, screen saver, extension but that's another newsletter.

If all of this has seemed interesting to you so far, now we get to the best part. Unlike many of the other viruses that came out, we actually know who started this one right from the get-go. Furthermore, we know why.

Three Netherlands teenagers who wanted to boost traffic to some porn sites started the virus.

One more time! With feeling!

Three Netherlands teenagers who wanted to boost traffic to some porn sites started the virus.

Yes, you heard right. There is a new marketing tactic out there. Surely there will be a rush to name the silly thing. Allow me to throw my hat into the ring. I say we call it:

Varketing

Virus plus Marketing equals Varketing.

Let's run that one up the flag pole and see who salutes.

I can see it now. A person sits down to read his or her email and opens a Varketing virus. He or she proclaims:

AAAAUUGH! All of the data I've been working on is gone, gone, gone! But hey! There's a 20% off sale on virus software at Amazon.com. I guess things are going to be OK.

The authorities certainly couldn't get the Varketers for Spamming. I mean, Spam implies that it's an unwanted advance. Varketing is enacted by you much like opening the Sunday paper, right?

I'm kidding of course. There's no need to write and tell me I'm wrong, or worse yet, ask how your company can get into Varketing.

I'm just wondering what the next virus will be.

I already know how it will be distributed.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

That's That. Thanks for reading.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And remember: Around where I live in Louisiana are these huge live oak trees. Hanging from the branches of those trees are long strands of what are called Spanish moss. It doesn't hurt the tree and just looks great when the wind picks up. I heard a couple of facts about Spanish moss I thought were interesting. First off, it used to be that Spanish moss was used to fill mattresses and pillows. The person that I was speaking to reported that the moss-filled bed items gave rise to the phrase, Don't let the bed bugs bite. Apparently there were actual bed bugs brought along with the moss. Ugh. Then I found out that Spanish moss isn't really moss at all. It's what's known as a Bromeliad. Spanish Moss's closest relative is the pineapple. Go figure.

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