The Sublet Virus
I found this warning on the internet, so you know it's true... ----------------- Friday April 2, 1999 12:55 PM ET Vicious New 'Sublet' Virus Brings Internet to a Halt ANN ARBOR, MI (Reuters) Fresh on the heels of the recent 'Melissa' virus, a new, more virulent strain is spreading. The so-called 'Sublet' virus appears to have been developed specifically to out maneuver high-tech anti-virus software, and spread its unwelcome payload at an alarming rate. Unlike the relatively simple techniques 'Melissa' uses to replicate itself, 'Sublet' relies on complex, polymorphic techniques. 'Melissa' arrives at a user's in-box, declaring itself as an 'Important Message from' the sender's name. The message itself reads 'Here is that document you asked for ... don't show it to anyone else ;-)'. If the recipient unwittingly opens the attached Microsoft Word document, the virus springs into action sending a copy of itself to the first fifty entries in the user's address book. 'Melissa' clogs e-mail servers and can even crash them if enough users in an organization are infected. The 'Sublet' virus is far more insidious, with each new infection it mutates making detection much more difficult. The message users receive appears to be an advertisement for an apartment sublet, with detailed descriptions of the apartment's amenities. However, by the time they've finished reading the message, users of the popular Pine e-mail program will have already become infected, sending a similar message to dozens of e-mail addresses. In addition to its ability to alter the content of the message, 'Sublet' focuses its wrath on e-mail lists rather than individuals. These lists, used to provide a convenient communications channel for members of groups, can each contain hundreds of users enabling the virus to virtually explode across the Internet. The effect of 'Sublet' is most strongly felt by members of the academic community, where it seems to have taken a foothold, in part because of the widespread use of the Pine program. Students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor were recently deluged with dozens of 'Sublet' messages in a single day. By some estimates, as many as 500 students received each message, many of whom automatically generated 'Sublet' messages of their own. Complaints to the school's technology division yielded no adequate response. Biology student Sari Purcell was visibly annoyed as she sat in a computer lab, ``This in a waste of my time. I don't need a sublet, I guess they have a right to say what they want and like, in the name of what we believe or whatever, but this is crazy.'' The sentiment was echoed by Law student Eric Postal, ``It's fascists like this that ruin it for the rest of us. Why can't they leave me alone, I have a lot of work to do without these techno-Nazis wasting my valuable time.'' Although efforts are being made to come up with a software solution, authorities can only suggest that users delete all e-mail messages with 'sublet' or 'apartment' in the subject before opening them. Experts expect that this virus will continue to reappear year after year as college students leave at the end of the semester and try to rent out their apartments. ``The best advice I can give people who want to sublet their apartment is to post fliers, and not to e-mail ads, as that will only prolong the problem, and crash more machines'' warned computer consultant Chris Coon.