|Junk Mail and Virus Information|
When you first go 'online' there is no sign of junk mail. Every email which comes in is gratefully received and carefully read. After a few weeks your first junk email will arrive and it will be followed by a slow trickle of perhaps one or two every week. No problem - its quick and easy to delete them.
You may decide after a while to send an article off to one of the
After two years the junk mail is becoming a problem. You are receiving
40 or 50 every day and its becoming annoying having to sift through
them carefully in the hope of finding one written by a real person.
Even worse, some of these will be harmful viruses pretending to be messages
from friends to avoid suspicion. (The virus has found your email address
in their address book.)
The final stage comes when you realise that all the important information
on your computer has been destroyed by a virus which you clicked on
by accident when you were sifting through 200 junk mails. Then you have
to spend a couple of weeks re-installing all the software and files.
A junk mail program collects email addresses from two main sources - websites and newsgroups. It starts by using search engines to collect website addresses. Each page of the website is scanned for email addresses by searching each line for the '@' character. In the case of newsgroups it searches each article header and picks out the 'From' address After a few weeks the software will have a collection of 6 million or so email addresses which will be sold to commercial companies and distributed worldwide on CDROM. So once your email address has been collected its impossible to delete it because copies have been distributed all round the world.
A typical email virus arrives in your mailbox disguised as a letter from a friend or business contact to avoid suspicion. Sometimes there is a short cryptic general purpose message like 'What do you think of this?' and an attachment. Often the subject line is copied from a genuine email on your friend's computer to make it realistic. Alternatively there can be a message to persuade you that you have accidentally received some exciting or confidential information. eg. 'Compromising Photograph' or 'Password list enclosed' When you open the attachment the virus is activated.
The virus starts off by infecting your standard email software and other common programs. Then it collects all the email addresses from your address book. Also it searches your 'Temporary Internet Files' folder which contains copies of pages from all the websites you have visited recently. Email addresses from these web pages are added to the list. Then the virus waits until you go online. When this happens it silently sends out email copies of itself using its own email software. (So your normal email program does not know about the extra email being sent out) The virus email goes out with a false sender address chosen from another contact in your address book so that the recipient cannot identify the true source. So if you have Friend A and Friend B in your address book then Friend A will think that the virus came from Friend B.
The final stage is triggered after a few weeks when the virus 'payload' is activated.