Otto Stolz on Thu, 10 Apr 1997 10:42:45 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Penpal Greetings is a Hoax, not a virus


again, horror-stories about a non-existant threat have been widely
circulated. Any message of this kind will uneccessarily cost experts'
working-time and novices' night-rest -- and has done so, already.
This message is addressed to those who have related the alert, unreflected,
to me.

I urge everybody to invest a few moments' thought before forwarding
any messag of this sort. Every computer-literate should be able to see
that the modus operandi described thusly
> This message appears to be a friendly letter [...], but by the time
> you read the letter, it is too late. The "trojan horse" virus will have
> already infected the boot sector of your hard drive, [...]
is technically impossible.

Facts are:
- By merly reading an E-mail letter, no virus can be propagated, as
  no additional program code is executed. Either, you had the virus already,
  or you won't have it after reading. Period.
- To attract a virus, or to suffer from a Troian Horse, you have to execute
  some program code brought to you from external sources. In the context
  of e-mail (and news), this code can only come via an ATTACHMENT.
  In particular, MS-Word formatted texts may contain Word-Macro viruses;
  if your MUA (or news-reader) is configured to launch Word and pass the
  attachment to it, you may be in trouble.

For Readers at the Universität Konstanz:
   Über dieses Thema gibt es einen Artikel in der neuesten Nummer unserer
   KURZ-Mitteilungen. Sie können ihn auch im WWW lesen:
   Was Sie gegen Makro-Viren tun sollten, steht in der vorletzten und
   vorvorletzten Nummer der KURZ-Mitteilungen und im WWW unter:
   Wir halten diese Informationen nicht gerade geheim :-)

For English-speaking readers:
   Read more on this particular hoax in the following WWW pages:
   Read more about e-mail hoaxes in:
   Read more about macro viruses in:

Don't worry, but be prepared!

Best wishes,
   Otto Stolz