Today in Tech: December 4th


Goner worm screenshots

December 4, 2001

Disguised as a screen saver and spread through an infected user’s Microsoft Outlook e-mail software, the Goner worm spreads through the Internet at a pace second only to the Love Bug virus the previous year. Goner was estimated to cause about $80 million dollars in damage

Similar to the UPS virus we see today, the Goner worm targeted users of Outlook and Outlook Express. For those of us old enough to remember, Outlook Express was a little free mail program that has long been replaced with Windows Live Mail. 

Anyways, the victim would see an attachment in their inbox that would then infiltrate the Windows operating system. From there, it could delete any program or file Outlook or its little sidekick the Express could touch rendering a machine useless. Being taunted by Subject lines like
 “Hi.” and the body of the message reading: “How are you? When I saw this screen saver, I immediately thought about you … I am in a harry [sic], I promise you will love it!” The mail also includes an attachment called Gone.SCR, which appears to be a screen saver.

In our day and age click bait is as ubiquitous as dust under a television. You can’t read an article online without being tempted to look at something stupid. This morning I get “rabbit-holed” by an offer to find out how many degrees of separation the kid who played Ronald Weasley’s girlfriend had from any actor based on people she dated. Why did I click that, I have no idea.

But in 2001, there wasn’t a lot to do on the internet. People, desperate for something to do online, answered the call to help Nigerian Princes the world over to stave off ennui. So, getting a random flirt, or a request for help or a cute screensaver had people not only infecting themselves, their address books.

While the Goner Worm may be a goner, there are still remnants of it online today. This time of year is when people will get flooded with emails giving status updates for packages in the mail. UPS posted this public service announcement, 

“Fraudulent emails adopt many different forms and are the unauthorized actions of third parties not associated with UPS. These email messages referred to as “phishing” or “spoofing” are becoming more common and may appear legitimate by incorporating company brands, colors, or other legal disclaimers.

There have been a number of fraudulent emails reported (see a current list of examples below), and new spoofs continue to be introduced. These types of emails point to invalid hyperlinks that are revealed when you hold your cursor over them. The invalid links may contain malware, which could potentially corrupt your computer.

These are not legitimate UPS communications, and should you receive any of these emails, do not follow any links provided or click on any attachments. Instead, simply delete the email. If you’ve accidentally selected a link, you should run a virus scan immediately.”

Scary huh? Check out these sample emails to get a sense of what UPS scams may be written this year. Well if you have a smartphone or tablet, PC Handyman highly suggests you install the UPS App and the Fedex App from the Apple and Google stores. Links to both can be found below.

UPS app at the App Store
UPS app at the Google Play Store

Fedex app at the App Store
Fedex app at the Google Play Store


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