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View Full Version : "Virus" problem - actually an elaborate spam plot



Robin S_
31-05-2003, 09:30 PM
Last week I posted a call for help to identify an apparent virus (see
this

http://pressf1.pcworld.co.nz/thread.jsp?forum=1&thread=35454).

By chance, and with some clues from pf1, I have solved the riddle. As mentioned in the above thread, there were a number of features that didn't fit a virus as being the explanation. Quite separately, I noticed Chilling's post on "What e-mail client do you use?" (http://pressf1.pcworld.co.nz/thread.jsp?forum=1&thread=35521) and in the thread was a tip by bm about using Eudora's viewer instead of Microsoft's. That appealed to me so I changed my Eudora settings to do this. Later I went to my wife's "bounced" e-mails to investigate the links in them and found that the picture placeholders in the message bodies no longer showed. I guessed that the reason was the switch to the Eudora viewer so I went back and (temporarily) restored the Microsoft viewer. When I returned to the e-mails - lo! the placeholders had now turned into ads. Why they hadn't previously, I don't know, but twiddling with the settings had obviously woken something up and activated it.

So the "bounced e-mail notice" is a (new?) ploy being used by spammer(s). Presumably, those who use Outlook or another client that uses the Microsoft viewer would normally get the ads coming up when opening the bounced e-mail notifications (as you would). Those who don't use the viewer are likely to get the puzzling situation that we did.

Big John
31-05-2003, 10:24 PM
The new Outlook 2003 has an option that it blocks external links. You can do a simple click if you want to see them and you get them in their glory.

I screen all my mail before I download it to Outlook and if it is something that looks like spam or is a bounce then it gets deleted off the server. Thus I only download to outlook what I want.

However the amount of spam is rising each day even though my e-mail address is not used anywhere. Guess thats what happens when you use a simple to guess email address

Robin S_
31-05-2003, 11:45 PM
Darn! I pressed the wrong button when I was trying to edit the first post and sent it. And Hoboy!, the limited editing features here sure make it a picnic trying to make corrections! Here is what it should have been.

Last week I posted a call for help to identify an apparent virus (see

http://pressf1.pcworld.co.nz/thread.jsp?forum=1&thread=35454 ).

By chance, and with some clues from pf1, I have solved the riddle. As mentioned in the above thread, there were a number of features that didn't fit a virus as being the explanation. Quite separately, I noticed JM's post on "What e-mail client do you use?"

http://pressf1.pcworld.co.nz/thread.jsp?forum=1&thread=35264

and in the thread was a tip by bmason about using Eudora's viewer instead of Microsoft's. That appealed to me so I changed my Eudora settings to do this. Later I went to my wife's "bounced" e-mails to investigate the links in them and found that the picture placeholders in the message bodies no longer showed. I guessed that the reason was the switch to the Eudora viewer so I went back and (temporarily) restored the Microsoft viewer. When I returned to the e-mails - lo! the placeholders had now turned into ads. Why they hadn't previously, I don't know, but twiddling with the settings had obviously woken something up and activated it.

So the "bounced e-mail notice" is a (new?) ploy being used by spammer(s). Presumably, those who use Outlook or another client that uses the Microsoft viewer would normally get the ads coming up when opening the bounced e-mail notifications (as you would). Those who don't use the viewer are likely to get the puzzling situation that we did.