Recently my wife recieved a well intentioned email from a friend who forwarded a message because she was genuinely concerned. Here’s the message:
Sent: July 22nd, 2008
Subject: Virus notification
This is true!
>>> Hi All, I checked with Norton Anti-Virus, and they are
>>> gearing up for this virus!
>>> I checked Snopes (URL above:), and it is for real!!
>>> Get this E-mail message sent around to your contacts ASAP.
>>> PLEASE FORWARD THIS WARNING AMONG FRIENDS, FAMILY AND
>>> CONTACTS! You should be alert during the next few days. Do
>>> not open any message with an attachment entitled
>>> ‘POSTCARD FROM HALLMARK,’ regardless of who sent it
>>> to you. It is a virus which opens A POSTCARD IMAGE, which
>>> ‘burns’ the whole hard disc C of your computer. This
>>> virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail
>>> address in his/her contact list. This is the reason why you
>>> need to send this e- mail to all your contacts. It is
>>> better to receive this message 25 times than to receive the
>>> virus and open it. If you receive a mail called’
>>> POSTCARD,’ even though sent to you by a friend, do not
>>> open it!< /FONT> Shut down your computer immediately.
>>> This is the worst virus announced by CNN. It has been
>>> classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever.
>>> This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is
>>> no repair yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply
>>> destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital
>>> information is kept.
>>> COPY THIS E-MAIL, AND SEND IT TO YOUR FRIENDS. REMEMBER: IF
>>> YOU SEND IT TO THEM, YOU WILL BENEFIT ALL OF US Snopes
>>> lists all the names it could come in.
No one actually checked with Norton, CNN never broadcast anything about it, and Microsoft never classified it. But that’s not to say that there isn’t some truth in it. In fact, this is partly true. Most of the body of this message emanates from a hoax beginning around the year 2000 (see http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/virtualcard.asp ). As you will see if you follow the link. However, there is a virus that began spreading last year using “You’ve Received a Postcard from a Family Member” as the bait, (see http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/postcard.asp ) Please do follow that link to see the variations of this virus.
If infected it will not “burn” your hard disc, but that’s not to say it’s not harmful. In fact, it wouldn’t need to burn your hard disc if it had complete and total control of your machine. Most likely it would lodge itself someplace where you wouldn’t find it, and call on your machine (again without you noticing anything, other than sluggish performance) to carry out DOS (Denial-of-Service) attacks on unsuspecting websites and ISP’s. Or worse still, install a keylogger on your system to capture every keystroke you make. If that scares you, I apologize, but all is not lost. If you’re worried now, than go to http://housecall.trendmicro.com/ for a FREE online virus scan. Be forewarned, this scan can take anywhere from 20 mins to 2 hours depending on your machine, but it’s totally worth it. Trend Micro has been around for several years, updates constantly and the free online scan doesn’t install any clunky software on your machine. If you do a lot of web-surfing, start getting pop-ups or if you feel like your computer is really slow (this could actually be a number of things we don’t have time to go into) then check in on Trend Micro once a week or so for a cleaning.