In June 2006, a mass-mailing worm that targeted Yahoo! Mail users began hitting inboxes. The worm arrives with an email that has the subject “New Graphic Site” and the body text “Note: forwarded message attached”.
According to an article on PCWorld.com:
The worm, which Symantec calls [email protected], is different from others in that a user merely has to open the e-mail to cause it to run, said Kevin Hogan, senior manager for Symantec Security Response. Mass-mail worms have usually been contained in an attachment with an e-mail note encouraging a user to open it.
Computer security experts do not consider the worm to be a major threat and it is claimed that the vulnerability has now been dealt with. An article about the worm on the Sophos website notes:
A representative for Yahoo! has been quoted in the press confirming that the vulnerability has been removed from its systems, and that Yahoo! mail users do not have to take any further action to avoid infection by the worm.
“We have taken steps to resolve the issue and protect our users from further attacks of this worm,” said Kelley Podboy of Yahoo!. “The solution has been automatically distributed to all Yahoo! Mail customers, and requires no additional action on the part of the user.”
Yahoo! users can refer to the following websites for more information about this worm:
A number of warning messages about this worm have also began to circulate. While letting others know about a potential computer security threat is commendable, forwarding a “virus warning” email may not be the best way to approach the issue. Such warnings often have a tendency to exaggerate the danger and can include false or misleading information. Also, they often continue to circulate for months or even years after the described threat has subsided. Moreover, many virus warning emails are outright hoaxes and should not be forwarded at all.
It is wise to spend a few minutes checking the truth of any virus warning emails you receive before forwarding them to others. Even if the warning is valid, simply pointing friends and colleagues to a write-up about the threat on a reputable anti-virus website is likely to be a better course of action than forwarding a full description of the threat via email. Unlike an email forward, an expert, web-based write-up will continue to contain accurate and up-to-date information about the security threat described.
In fact, false, misleading or outdated email virus warnings can develop some of the characteristics of the threats they claim to describe. Like email worms, such warnings can pointlessly consume bandwidth, add to inbox clutter and waste the time of both recipients and computer help and support staff obligated to deal with enquiries.