This Tech Time Warp goes back to 2001 shortly after Microsoft released Windows XP, which meant Windows 95 had officially become a legacy product. Do you remember Clippy? 2001 wasn’t a good year for Clippy. Clippy was Microsoft’s cartoon office assistant, and in April 2001, Microsoft announced that their Office products would no longer include this little character. While early Windows users may have been devastated to discover their favorite helper is missing, there were bigger problems lurking in 2001—computer viruses.
A virus that shares surprising gifts
On July 30, 2001, a new threat called SirCam popped up in people’s inboxes. Richard Meislin reported on the phenomenon in an article for The New York Times titled Compressed Data; A Virus, Yes, but One That Brings Interesting Things.
“Like several predecessors, SirCam spreads itself by finding e-mail addresses saved by the recipient, and sending the virus to them,” Meislin explained. “But it has a nasty new trick: it picks a file at random from the infected computer's hard drive, wraps the virus code around it and e-mails it on.”
Through this unusual virus, many articles and documents got unintentionally spread around the Internet. According to Meislin, some of the most colorful files people reported receiving thanks to SirCam include a detailed journal about trip to Thailand, and even a Bloody Mary recipe, which included pickle juice but forgot one of the most important parts—the vodka.
Email viruses now
Computer viruses from 15 years ago almost sound quaint now. It’s hard to go more than a few days without hearing about new threats or seeing them in your inbox. Phishing scams have become very sophisticated, and sometimes nearly indistinguishable from a valid email. According to Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 30 percent of phishing emails were opened by the recipient.
One scam that has recently hit the news is the Pokémon Go phishing email that urges users to pay $12.99 for the app due to the increased popularity of the game, claiming that if you refuse to pay your account would be frozen. According to the Better Business Bureau, the login “isn’t run buy an official app store or Niantic Labs. It’s on a third party site, and it is a way to steal users’ passwords.”
Another scam that popped up this week was an Amazon phishing email. The email seems to be from Amazon, saying that you’ve been double charge for an order but that you need to update your billing information to get the refund. Check out just how believable this email looks.
In 2016, it has become increasingly important to recognize and avoid phishing attacks, and unfortunately the user is usually the weakest link. That’s why it’s so important for MSPs to educate their customers and so they know how to avoid becoming a victim.