Joined: 18 September 2004
You may have heard about the screen-saver that was being offered from Lycos, Europe, as an honest, but misguided, effort to fight against spammers.
The idea was for the screen-saver to send data to known spammers' web sites, and with enough people running the program the web site would crash. In practice the idea has some practical and ethical loopholes. The biggest one being that a legitimate non-spamming web site could be added to the list and wrongly attacked.
Spam is a nuisance, costly and understandably gets people upset, but in our reactions against this plague there has to be some moderation.
Lycos has withdrawn the program after the difficulties with their plan were highlighted. Sadly a virus writer has made use of the publicity. Hence this extra issue of WEE – we want to warn our readers about a new virus that takes advantage of anyone wanting to fight against spam.
F-Secure is reporting a new virus spreading by email. You may see an email headed like "Be the first to fight spam with Lycos screen" and an attachment that mentions Lycos and fighting spam.
While it's not been reported as happening yet, it would be conceivable that the same file could be spread by peer-to-peer systems, well-meaning web sites or well-meaning friends.
Naturally the attachment isn't what it says it is. It is really a keystroke-spying program that records everything you type (including passwords, account details etc) and sends it back to the bad guys.
Bottom Line: avoid anything that says it is an anti-spam program from Lycos –
regardless of the source.
Thanks to Dr Paul from Melbourne, Australia who wrote to us with the link to a web site we've been looking for – about people who engage the Nigerian 419 scammers in long and pointless conversations.
http://www.419eater.com has stories from people who have engaged the scammers in conversations and generally wasted their time chasing non-existent money transfers, plane arrivals etc. I was glad to see that the web site makers explicitly reject any racist motives – but I can't help thinking that the photo gallery (with photos of scammers holding sometimes rude and disgusting signs) goes too far.
Still, its interesting reading and an insight into the logic behind these scams. We'd not suggest you join the 419 baiting brigade but if you do, make sure you are very careful and heed all the warnings on the web site.
Occasional news from the email world – these are news items, not product tests or recommendations.
Joined: 01 November 2004
Joined: 06 November 2004
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