Please Read/KLEZ monster
- Got this in my email today --
finally a non-techie article on the KLEZ monster!
Please read and forward widely. Thank you.
The link and article below will be a big help in explaining why so many are having email problems in the past number of days. I urge everyone to make sure that you have a good anti-virus program installed on your computer and update it on a regular basis.
Klez: Don't Believe 'From' Line
By Michelle Delio
2:00 a.m. April 30, 2002 PDT
Some Internet users have recently received an e-mail message from a dead
friend. Others have been subscribed to obscure mailing lists. Some have
lost their Internet access after being accused of spamming, and still
others have received e-mailed pornography from a priest.
They're actually experiencing some of the stranger side effects of the
Klez computer virus.
These ersatz e-mails containing the virus are creating Klez-provoked
arguments and accusations that are now spreading as fast as the worm
The latest variant of the Klez virus started spreading 10 days ago. The
virus e-mails itself from infected machines using a bogus "From" address
randomly plucked from all e-mail addresses stored on an infected
computer's hard drive or network.
Recipients of the virus-laden e-mails, not understanding that the "From"
information is virtually always phony - or even that they have received
a virus -- have been clogging networks with angry and confused e-mails
that are causing a great deal of cyber-havoc.
People signing up for newsletters and mailing lists that they never
subscribed to has been a major source of frustration for both users and
the list owners.
If Klez happens to send an e-mail "from" a user to an e-mail list's
automatic subscribe address, the list software assumes the e-mail is a
valid subscription request and begins sending mail to the user.
A mailing list for fans of the Grammy Award-winning Steely Dan band has
posted an explanation directed to those who were subscribed to the list
by the virus.
"We are not infected with the Klez virus. We don't know if you are
infected with the Klez virus. You may be. But even if you are not,
someone out there who is infected has both your address and our address
on their computer ... and therein lies the problem," the explanation
reads, in part.
Even when users understand the source of newsletter-generated e-mails,
the amount of mail some lists generate is causing problems.
"Last week I suddenly started getting hundreds of e-mails, daily, with
information about raising tropical fish, purchasing cosmetics and
staying in youth hostels," Victor Montez, a sales rep for a publishing
firm, said. "I do not keep fish, wear makeup or travel rough."
Montez now understands the e-mails came from Klez-subscribed news lists.
But he said that since his free e-mail account only stores a certain
amount of messages, he's lost access to the account twice this week. He
believes he's also lost a significant amount of business-related
"If this keeps up, I may end up having to stay in hostels and I'll have
plenty of free time to devote to raising fish," he said.
In some cases, it almost seems as if Klez is specifically targeting
particularly vulnerable e-mail addresses onto which it can piggyback.
E-mails containing an invitation to view what purports to be an
attachment with pornographic images appears at first glance to have been
sent out by Catholic parishes in New York and Maryland. The attachment
actually contains the Klez virus, and tracing information indicates the
e-mails were actually sent from an Internet service located in the
United Arab Emirates.
"While we would obviously never choose to have our churches' names
affiliated with such material, this is a particularly difficult time to
have e-mail with obscene references -- which appear to have been sent by
church staff -- circulating," an archdiocese spokeswoman said, referring
to the worldwide sex abuse scandal.
Other newsletter owners are also suffering. Some say their Internet
service providers have accused them of
spamming non-members. Many ISPs cut service when they receive a certain
amount of spam complaints.
"I was reported to my ISP over a dozen times this week for spamming,"
said Keith Carlone, the manager of an e-mail
newsletter for classic car enthusiasts. "My ISP threatened to pull my
account after the third complaint and we went
down shortly afterwards. It took four days to sort the problem out."
Andrew Fiber, maintainer of a Jewish folk music mailing list, said that
the list has been inundated with messages
about widely off-topic subjects, so much so that Fiber wondered if most
of his members had suddenly gone
"meshuga (a little crazy)."
But then Fiber began getting the complaints.
"All of a sudden we had e-mails coming in from around the world, with
people yelling we had sent them Klez," Fiber
said. "The thing is that 'Klezmer' is a type of traditional folk music
which we often discuss on the list and sometimes
refer to as Klez. So I thought people were protesting about our folk
music. It was very confusing for a while."
Some users have even reported receiving spooky e-mails from deceased
"I belonged to a tattoo artists' list that closed down a few years ago.
Last week, I began getting e-mails from the
list. Even weirder, I got eight e-mails with subject lines that read
'SOS' and 'Eager to See You' from a list member
who died last year. It totally creeped me out," said "Bear" Montego.
Klez e-mails' subject lines are randomly chosen from a pre-programmed
list of about 120 possibilities, including "Let's
be friends," "Japanese lass' sexy pictures," "Meeting Notice," "Hi
Honey" and "SOS."
Klez also sends fake "returned" or "undeliverable" e-mails, advising the
supposed sender that their original, refused
e-mail is contained in the attachment. Clicking on the attachment
triggers the virus.
The virus can launch automatically when users click to preview or read
e-mails bearing Klez on systems that have
not been patched for a year-old vulnerability in Internet Explorer,
Outlook and Outlook Express. Klez only affects PCs
running Microsoft's Windows operating system.
As of Monday afternoon, Klez's spread seems to have slowed, but
antiviral experts warn that the worm will be around
for a while.
"Anytime you have a virus that is not easily identifiable visually, it
tends to linger," Rod Fewster, Australian
representative for antiviral application NOD32, said. "SirCam and Klez
both vary the subject lines of the e-mails they
send, which makes it hard for the average user to spot."
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