E-mail users face new spam threat

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E-mail users face new spam threat

Cliff Saran
Sophos and other antivirus suppliers are warning e-mail users to be wary of an e-mail greeting card that spams unsuspecting recipients using contacts in Microsoft Outlook's address book.

Technical support staff at Sophos said they have received a significant number of calls from users concerned about a widespread e-mail that invites users to pick up an "E-Card" from a Web site called FriendGreetings.com.

Sophos said that if users follow the link in the e-mail, they are invited to install an application on to their computer. The user is then presented with a lengthy licence agreement for the application. Agreeing to the terms effectively grants permission to send a similar greeting card to all addresses found in the user's Outlook address book.

On its Web site Sophos suggests users consider blocking access to www.friendgreetings.com. As a wider measure to tackle the problem of employees unwittingly subscribing to Spam, Sophos recommends users consider blocking access to non-work-related Web sites, and educate users to check with their IT department before installing unauthorised code on to their computers.

Alex Shipp, senior antivirus technologist at MessageLabs, said the FriendGreetings.com spam works in the same way as a virus. "It's using similar technique to Melissa which replicated via Outlook's address book back in 1999." Shipp said the only difference between FriendGreetings.com and a virus is that FriendGreetings tells you what it will do.

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