Virus Warning (fwd)

Jon Aske jaske at ABACUS.BATES.EDU
Thu May 1 02:13:29 UTC 1997

> This warning circulated in our department already. One of our profs sent
> a note around reminding us that viruses can't get into your system when
> you read an e-mail message; only when you DOWNLOAD software. This is what
> I have consistently heard about viruses. Has anything changed to make
> this invalid?

As I mentioned in my second posting, you're quite right.  And we're dealing
with two different things here: (1) A virus hoax, and (2) a trojan horse
program, which you yourself must execute to do the damage (a true virus
does the damage all by itself).

After following all the links I mentioned earlier, however, I found that
you could indeed receive the trojan horse as an attachment to a mail
message, and if you double-clicked on it you could be executing it and thus
unintentionally deleting the files in your root directory.  (Note that if
you have an undelete program you can still get them back.)

Here is the relevant information (from
1.  The AOL4FREE.COM program is a Trojan Horse, not a virus. It does not
    spread on its own.
2.  A Trojan Horse must be run to do any damage.
3.  Reading an e-mail message with the Trojan Horse program as an
    will not run the Trojan Horse and will not do any damage. ***Note that
    opening an attached program from within an e-mail reader runs that
    attached program, which may make it appear that reading the attachment
    caused the damage***. Users should keep in mind that any file with a
.COM or
    .EXE extension is a program, not a document and that double clicking or
    opening that program will run it. Macintosh users have the additional
    problem that Macintosh programs do not have readable extensions, and so
    are more difficult to detect. Extra care should be taken to insure
    that you do not unintentionally execute an attached program.

Sorry about flooding you all with these messages, but I thought this was

Jon Aske
jaske at

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