John Bryant
Arizona Computer Consultant
(602) 861-1738

Don't Talk to e-Strangers!
Email VIruses, E-Scams Pose New Threats

(October, 1999)

The sad truth about the wonders of new technology seems to be that for every beneficial new tool there is someone ready to make it into a weapon. Recent progress in the field of mass communications have yielded two nasty little plots which you need to know about . The “BubbleBoy” virus spreads just by reading an email, while the “809” phone scam can cost you hundreds of dollars just by making a phone call. Read on and learn how to avoid these two e-threats.

Bubbleboy Be Gone!

1998 Computer ResolutionsWhat was once a practical joke on the Internet has now become an ugly reality. The “BubbleBoy” virus was discovered this week and it’s creator has broken the email barrier. This virus can be contracted and spread just by reading an email! Up until now, the only way a virus could be sent by email was through an attached file which the recipient had to knowingly and deliberately download onto their computer. Even if you opened an infected email, nothing would happen to you unless you downloaded the attachment. Bubbleboy (apparently named after a popular episode of Sienfeld) is coded right into the content of the email, but is invisible to the reader. If you are using the latest Internet Explorer and read your email with Outlook or Outlook Express, this harmless looking email can quietly infect your computer. The email looks like the picture above and (for now) always has “Bubbleboy is Back!” in the subject field.

This virus changes your software’s registered name and company info, steals the email addresses from your address book, and sends itself to all of your friends and associates. This virus requires Internet Explorer 5 and a Microsoft Outlook product to work. If you don’t have both of these on your computer, you are safe - for now. Microsoft has released a security patch for this virus.

Just Say 'NO' to 809

1998 Computer ResolutionsExpensive “pay per call” services have been around for many years. Amazing psychics and sexy models entice their viewers to call their special (and costly) 900 phone numbers during their late evening commercial slots while “cyber-babe” internet promoters offer their guests the world - for the cost of a 900 phone call.

The 809 area code services the Dominican Republic and excessive per-minute charges are permitted in this country without notice to the caller. Rates of up to $25.00 per minute have been reported. Since the calls are made into a foreign country, they are subject to that countries rules - which means there is almost no avenue through which you can contest the phone charges.

Scam artists are exploiting the Internet to send phony faxes, emails, voice mails and pager messages that encourage victims to call a number with an 809 area code. Some cons use phony creditor calls that threaten legal action if a return call is not made within 24 hours, while others have used bulk emails with enticements of winnings or urgent messages about family members. Some simply send pages with return numbers in the 809 area code. Once you call, the game is to do anything to keep you on the phone as long as possible. Be alert to 809 calls and don’t be fooled!

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