Today, in the “more proof that there’s nothing new under the sun” category, we’re going to discuss the Taliban Virus.
The so-called “Taliban Virus” is a MANUAL virus. A manual virus requires you to voluntarily damage your computer because the virus is not sophisticated enough to do it by itself.
Yes, this is a joke.
It’s actually an old joke. The “honor system virus” as Wikipedia explains has been around for a while. Over the years, the idea of the low tech virus has been attributed to the Amish, the Irish, blondes and Mac users just to name a few. So, as jokes go, this is nothing new.
(We think it would be funnier if they included a tech support contact so that recipients who can’t figure out how to wreck their computers could call in for help. Maybe they could post an instructable or something . . . )
Anyway, here’s an example of what we’ve been seeing:
Subject: Dear Internet User
From: “Miss Freya” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
You have just received a Taliban virus. Since we are not so technologicaly advanced in Afghanistan, this is a MANUAL virus. Please delete all the files on your hard disk yourself and send this mail to everyone you know.
Thank you very much for helping us.
Thanks & Regards
There are several variations of the message above. All of them are from “Miss Freya” but there are a few different subjects:
Dear Internet User
There are also a number of different “From:” addresses:
Some of the addresses look like somebody typing test addresses randomly (e.g. email@example.com) while some of them look like they actually belong to somebody (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). But all of them are Gmail addresses.
If you received this “virus” you might be tempted to reply and ask who was so thoughtful as to send you this really funny joke from an address you don’t recognize.
This would be a bad idea. Here’s why:
From our point of view, having seen lots of these pass through our spam filtering service, it looks like someone is using this joke as a test payload for spam messages. They’re either testing Gmail’s tolerance for spam or using it to clean their email address lists by purging addresses that don’t answer, or more likely, marking the ones that do answer as a “live one”.
The “virus” itself is harmless and even kind of funny but the email containing it is highly suspicious and should be treated as spam.
What’s really funny about this is that it appears that the sender is actually quite sophisticated and might even be a botnet. We love the idea of using a botnet to send a manual virus.
What will they think of next?
BTW, if you see any other variations feel free to let us know in the comments.
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