PENPAL virus

Subject: PENPAL virus
From: Emanuella Giavarra (
Date: pe 14 maalis 1997 - 17:05:24 EET

Dear list members,

Some days ago I received a message about the virus PENPAL on the
internet. I must say that initially I was worried until I received
the advise enclosed in this message via a member of EBLIDA.

Kind regards,
Emanuella Giavarra
If you receive a warning about an Internet virus tell your IT manager,
or if you are in a department which doesnt have one, tell ISU . They
will find out whether or not the virus is a real threat, or a hoax
virus. If it is real they will warn the rest of the council.
The main cost of a PC catching a computer virus is in the time it
takes to sort out the mess, and get the PC working correctly again.
Some people have worked out how to create confusion, and waste a lot
of time without having to go to the bother of actually writing a
virus. They just pretend that a virus exists, and spread rumours
about hoax viruses. All they have to do is to publish a report on the
Internet, warning of a new, usually devastating virus. The message
soon gets about, and a lot of wasted effort can be put into ensuring
that organisations do not catch the virus.
Some examples of such hoaxes are the so called Good News virus and
more recently the Penpal virus. Normally the warning says that if
anyone even reads an e-mail message which contains a key phrase (in
these cases 'Good News' and 'Penpal') they will infect their PC with
the virus. According to the hoaxer, the next thing they know their
hard disk will have been reformatted and they will have lost all their
Viruses can only get into a PC if an infected program is run. If the
virus is on a floppy disk it could be hiding in the boot sector, which
contains a program that is run when a PC is first switched on. This
is how viruses such as the Form virus spread. Viruses can also hide
in any other program that you run. This includes little programs,
called macros, that can come with Word documents, or Excel
spreadsheets. This is how the Word Macro viruses, which have been
such a nuisance in the past few months, get around. They are hidden
in attachments that come with some messages. To catch one of these
viruses you would have to run the macro, by opening the document with
Word, or the spreadsheet with Excel. Just reading an e-mail message
with the attachment could not infect your PC. The hoax viruses just
couldnt be real, nobody has yet found a way to spread a virus just by
sending a message.
Real viruses dont advertise themselves by putting their name in a
title, they try to hide away and attack when you are not expecting
Keep safe from real viruses by making sure that the virus checker on
your PC is up-to-date, and dont even bother to read any unsolicited
e-mail from outside the council.
If you get sent a warning about a virus, tell your IT manager (or ISU
if your department doesnt have one). They will find out if the virus
is real, and warn the rest of HCC if it is. Dont let the hoaxers win
by spreading their rumour for them and making people worry about their
mail unnecessarily.

Barbara Schleihagen, Director
Heidi Grootscholten, EU Policy Officer
P.O. Box 43300
NL-2504 AH The Hague
Tel: +31-70-309 06 08
Fax: +31-70-309 07 08

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