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Re: happy99 virus (again)
[ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Dear Friends on the Sinclair List:
I apologize for the previous error. I'm still learning how to send a
message and forward another at the same time.
My son sent this message to me when I asked him about the
This is rather long, but it will q uiet your natural fears at receiving
such an email at that one.
Myra, Portland, OR
At 05:47 PM 3/18/99 -0800, you wrote:
>[ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, email@example.com.
>[ To get off or on the list, see http://www.mids.org/sinclair/list.html
>To all Sinclair list servers.
> Here is a site which deals with the
>happy99 computer virus. It includes a
>free downloadable program that checks
>for (and, if you have it, fixes) the
>happy99 bug. If you do have the bug,
>this site is really worth the time.
From: Kendrick Perala <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: happy99 virus
At 08:18 PM 3/18/99 -0800, you wrote:
>Should I download this cleaner?
I'm sorry it's a little lengthy, but well worth the read. This is from the
new issue of Computer Bits.
The Good Times Virus
An urban legend for the Internet ... by Angella K. Foret
Good Times will re-write your hard drive. It will scramble
any disks that are even close to your computer. It will recalibrate your
refrigerator's coolness setting so all your
ice cream goes melty. It will demagnetize the strips on all
your credit cards, screw up the tracking on your television
and use subspace-field harmonics to scratch any CDs you try
It will give your ex-girlfriend your new phone number. It
will mix Kool-aid into your fishtank. It will drink all
your beer and leave its socks out on the coffee table when there's company
coming over. It will put a dead fish
in the back pocket of your good suit pants and hide your car keys when you
are late for work.
Good Times will make you fall in love with a penguin. It
will give you nightmares about circus midgets. It will pour sugar in your
gas tank and shave off both your eyebrows while
dating your girlfriend behind your back and billing the
dinner and hotel room to your Discover card.
It will seduce your grandmother. It does not matter if
she is dead, such is the power of Good Times: it reaches
out beyond the grave to sully those things we hold most dear.
It moves your car randomly around parking lots so you
can't find it. It will kick your dog. It will leave
libidinous messages on your boss's voice mail in your voice!
It is insidious and subtle. It is dangerous and terrifying to behold. It is
also a rather interesting shade of mauve.
Good Times will give you Dutch Elm disease. It will leave the toilet seat
up. It will make a batch of methanphetamine in your bathtub and then leave
bacon cooking on the stove while it
goes out to chase grade schoolers with your new snowblower.
Listen to me. Good Times does not exist. It cannot do
anything to you. But I can. I am sending this message to everyone in the
world. Tell your friends, tell your family.
If anyone else sends me another E-mail about this fake Good
Times Virus, I will turn hating them into a religion. I
will do things to them that would make a horse head in
your bed look like Easter Sunday brunch. - Anonymous
Legends Urban and Suburban
The urban legend has been around as long the suburbs.
Remember the story about the nice folks who would drug you
and steal your kidneys? How about the high-beam flashing
gang initiation rite? Then there are the old stand-bys, of course: the
killer with a hook for a hand terrorizing teens
at drive-ins, the murderer who calls the babysitter from the upstairs
phone. Let us not forget the ultimate horror
story that has yet to be disproved: the Millennium Bug, or
The Day the Earth Will Stand Still. It was only a matter
time before urban legends made their way from our coffee
tables to our desktops. They have morphed into messages of
technological doom, scaring new computer and Internet
users with their prophecies of electronic destruction.
They start as friendly warnings passed from friend to
friend, but are the warnings valid?
Spreading the Word
Computer viruses have been around nearly as long as
computers, but virus warnings took on a new dimension
with the advent of e-mail. As the Internet became a
global reality and users began exchanging files across
modem lines, the possibility of virus transmissions
loomed. Internet users were warned this possibility
existed and companies like Norton and Symantec
flourished with their anti-virus programs.
The first widespread Internet hoax was the "Good Times" virus message.
Originating in 1991, the Good Times virus has
traveled around the world numerous times and has frightened
many a new user into forwarding the message on to friends
and family, who passed it on to their friends and family,
who passed it on... well, you get the idea.
The Good Times virus message reads: Here is some
important information. Beware of a file called Good
Times. Happy Chanukah everyone, and be careful out there.
There is a virus on America Online being sent by E-Mail.
If you get anything called "Good Times," DON'T read it or ownload it. It
is a virus that will erase your hard drive. Forward this to all your
friends. It may help them a lot.
The FCC recently released a warning concerning a matter
of major importance to any regular user of the Internet: Apparently, a new
computer virus that is unparalleled in
its destructive capability has been engineered by a user
of America Online. Other, more well-known viruses such as
Stoned, Airwolf, and Michelangelo pale in comparison.
What makes this virus so terrifying, said the FCC, is
the fact that no program needs to be exchanged for a
new computer to be infected. It can be spread through
Internet e-mail. "Once a computer is infected, one of
several things can happen. If the computer contains a
hard drive, that will most likely be destroyed. If the
program is not stopped, the computer's processor will be
placed in an nth-complexity infinite binary loop -- which can
severely damage the processor if left running that way
too long. Unfortunately, most novice computer users will
not realize what is happening until it is far too late."
This message can't be believed for several reasons. First
of all, it is impossible to get a virus from simply opening
an email: This would be akin to catching a cold from reading
the Journal of the AMA. Most browsers simply display the text
of the message; no other program is required to run it.
However, you can get a virus by opening, saving and/or
wnloading an attachment or file from the Internet.
Second, what is an "nth complexity infinite binary loop"?
I'm sure someone out there who is even nerdier than me
knows the answer, but this mysterious loop is not something
of which I am personally afraid. Besides, if you shut
off your computer at night, like most people do, wouldn't
that be a moot point?
Third, the message refers to the FCC as the commanding
authority. In truth, the FCC is not involved in the issuance
of virus warnings; this task belongs to the Computer Incident
Advisory Capability of the U.S. Department of Energy (CIAC). Other branches
of the government -- including a division
called NASA Automated Systems Incident Response Capability (NASIRC) --
conduct internal investigations and share
their findings with the CIAC.
The response to the Good Times virus threw the Internet
into an uproar. So many people forwarded the message that
t became self-propagating. Perhaps the message's circulatory route is the
nth complexity infinite binary loop?
One anonymous writer, weary of receiving the same message 16 times, penned
the response at the beginning of this article. Unfortunately, the response
hasn't received the same
exposure as the original bogus message.
Variations on a Theme
Many computer virus hoax messages are simply a new twist
on an old gimmick. For example, millions of Internet
users received the Bill Gates Hoax, in which Bill Gates, president of
Microsoft, Inc., promised $1,000 in cash and
a free copy of Windows 95 or 98 if the recipient would
pass the message on to everyone they knew. Several months
later, the Walt Disney Hoax followed.
Claiming to be from Walt Disney, Jr., the message promised
$5,000 cash and/or a trip to Disneyland for those who
passed the message on. Still another message, purportedly
from Nike, pledged $120 gift certificates for Nike apparel to participants.
My personal favorite is the "Internet Clean-Up Day."
According to this message, the Internet must be shut down annually to
"eliminate dead email and inactive ftp, www
and gopher sites, allow(ing) for a better working and
faster Internet." At one minute after midnight on some obscure date ("the
time least likely to interfere with ongoing work"), "five powerful Internet
search engines situated around the
world will search the Internet and delete any data that they find." The
message goes on to request that you, cautious
Internet user, "protect your valuable data from deletion" by
disconnecting your modem, server, disks and hard drives from
any connections to the Internet and to "refrain from
connecting any computer to the Internet in any way."
Aside from assuring someone of the perfect time to access a relatively
clear Internet (where is everybody?), this message
is bogus and serves no useful purpose. After all, if
everyone disconnected their servers and modems, where would
"the Internet" be? On some remote planet, one presumes, or possibly
warehoused in Bill Gates's massive underground
garage. One can imagine the Merry Maids dusting the gophers
and sweeping the ftp sites.
Sometimes, a Kernel of Truth
That said, it should be noted that some Internet virus hoaxes
do have a basis in fact. Perhaps the best-known incident is
the AOL4FREE program. In 1994, a Yale student created a
program that would allow Macintosh users to install and use
AOL accounts on their computers without access charges. The student was
prosecuted after AOL discovered the theft, but
at a price: AOL estimates it lost $40-70,000 in revenue
due to the distribution of the program. In an attempt
to recover from the fiasco, AOL warned that anyone
caught using the program or unauthorized AOL accounts would
be prosecuted. A few načve computer users turned this
simple warning into a virus warning, claiming that, among
other things, the program would "erase your hard drive" and "delete your
disk" if you read it (presumably triggered
by the motion of your eyeballs).
A few months later, a real Trojan Horse, called AOL4FREE.COM,
was released.While the original AOL4FREE program was
designed for Macintosh users, this program was a compiled
DOS program. Upon execution, it would run a DELTREE
command, essentially deleting your entire C:\ drive.
Keep in mind, however, that this program was an
executable program that required you to actually open and
How Do I Know?
How do you know if the message you received is a real virus? There are
several ways of verifying the authenticity of a
1) Where did the message come from? The CIAC says you can
safely ignore any e-mail virus warnings from Grandma, or
Joe in Accounting. Authentic virus warnings will originate
from credible sources, such as your company's system
operator, your Internet service provider, or the CIAC.
Is it digitally signed? Are there a lot of EXCLAMATION
POINTS!!! AND CAPITAL LETTERS?!!!
2) It is impossible to get a virus simply from reading an
email. If you receive a message claiming that you will get
the virus if you open a message, ignore it. Better yet, pass
on a quick and witty reply.
3) Every Internet user should have a good, updated anti-
virus program, such as Norton Anti-Virus, Symantec or
McAfee. These anti-virus programs will scan all of your
disks, downloads and email attachments before opening
them. They will also scan your hard drive periodically
and check for viruses.
4) If you are unsure whether or not a virus is present
on your computer, on a floppy or as an attachment to an
email, do not open it. Delete it immediately, or have your
virus program scan it.
5) Check out some of the more popular virus update pages,
such as Symantec, Dr. Solomon's Virus Center, or Data Fellows.
Win A Holiday!!!
I recently received the "Win A Holiday" virus warning,
which is another twist on the "Join the Crew" virus ]
message. The message warns that the virus will attach
itself to my computer components (wow, I'd like to see that!)
and render them useless. The message advised me to
"...practice cautionary measures and forward this to all
your online friends ASAP."
Needless to say, I didn't. Instead, I wrote out a quick
and easy reply to everyone the recipient list, as well as everyone on the
extensive forwarded header list and everyone
in my own address book. The message went out to a total of 71 people!
The only way to put a stop to the nuisance of Internet
virus hoaxes and chain letters is to respond accordingly.
Send out an abbreviated version of this message or create one
of your own. Do not forward any virus messages you receive
- if you're not sure, send it to the CIAC, your sysop or ISP,
or check out a virus update page. Your friends and family
will thank you for it, and I won't have to make a mess
with the horse's head.
Help Protect America's Heritage Forests at http://www.ourforests.org