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If I Knew You Were Coming, I'd Have Baked a Cake

Wow! I sure am getting popular. My old girl friend and my "soon to be ex" wife are sending me love notes.

After realizing I wasn't suddenly the most important person in everyone's heart I did some checking. It seems that there has been a huge, and I do mean huge, resurgence in the old e-card scam.

Absolutely everyone I know has received multiple e-cards in the last few months. Your Mom wanting to say Hello, Greeting from an old school chum, everyone's mailbox is jammed with E cards. With numbers in the 200 million range, most of your friends are included.

Why are we getting this Spam? Simple. Your computer is being setup as a Bot controlled by a Botmaster. You will be one of thousands used to do the bidding of your master. By spreading their tasks over computers like yours they are getting billions of dollars of free bandwidth and hardware.

While the total scam is known as a Peer To Peer Bot Net, this particular infection is a variation of the "Storm Trojan" or JSE-card-A Trojan. According to Government Technology it accounts for 6.3% of all spam seen in the global traps set by sophoslabs.

Once in your mailbox and opened the email invites you to click on a link that takes you to a compromised zombie computer hosting the JSE-card-A Trojan. Instead of an uplifting greeting you receive a costly infection. Unprotected computers could go for weeks without knowing they have been captured. Eventually the computer slows until the problem must be addressed. This is usually when consumers take their trusty box or laptop to the local shop (Ka-ching!), or go to the their favorite help site to see what's wrong.

Once aware that I was infected it took only about 4 minutes to identify, download an antivirus product effective against that infection, and remove the infection from the computer. Four little minutes, Wow, maybe I am getting better at this computer stuff. After thanking Jacee for her help and double-checking that all was in working order, I turned off the box, and feeling a little smug, went to bed.

Suns up, coffee is brewing, turn on the computer to check the morning mail...Huh? E-mail from my Internet service provider. Must want to give me even more bandwidth for free, maybe a discount for being such a good customer. Bummer it's only a warning letter about spam. No big deal, I'll just delete it and be on my way. What the heck, why can't I send e-mail?

It's now three days later and I'm punching numbers on my phone pad. The voice is saying, "press 1 if you are a federal...." "Press 2 if you are a state or local law enforcement agency" "Press 3 if you are a Comcast customer. I haven't been able to send e-mail for three days. Although the "one click fix" that my ISP offers might work for some e-mail addresses it doesn't work for my work address.

When I finally get to the gentleman at the other end I am humbly asking that I not have to change ports to send e-mail. I explain that the problem has been dispatched properly and that there will be no more offending e-mails coming from my freshly healed computer.

As has always been the case with my ISP, he indicates he will correct the problem. He's also willing to answer a few question and offers that the normal ports used to send and receive e-mail are shortly going into retirement due to their use by spammers. Because of this, third party e-mail clients will need to use alternate secure ports. Specifically the abused ports are 25 and 110.

So now, the numbers I'm hearing from Matt on Friday's Today Show and the multitude of articles I'm seeing on the Internet, are starting to make sense. My feelings of smugness have certainly disappeared. If I add up the cost of time, a good AV program, and the loss of work performed, the tab is a big one.

The figures of 1 in 4, or 7 million computers replaced annually due to viral infections, and 7 billion dollars wasted yearly, will get anyone's attention.

So what do we do to avoid being a part of this huge scam?

1. Install reputable antivirus software.

2. Update it now and often.

3. Do not open any e-mail or click any links that are vague or unknown.

4. Absolutely avoid links that use the format XXX XXX XXX XXX or a set of four numbers in their links.

5. And most important of all, do not open e-mail from your soon to be ex.

Join the Discussion
BlackWiddow: If I Knew You Were Coming ... (Tue, 25 Sep 2007 18:33:53 GMT)
I love I think Im going to make some for dinner tonight... YUM!!!!
shogan191: If I Knew You Were Coming ... (Mon, 17 Sep 2007 13:21:25 GMT)
I don't know, ask your local republican.
Bruce: If I Knew You Were Coming ... (Sun, 16 Sep 2007 04:35:41 GMT)
Whats spam?

Whats an E-Card
flewpastu: If I Knew You Were Coming ... (Sun, 16 Sep 2007 04:24:35 GMT)
i found it to be interesting

but now i'm a little depressed i dont even get spam e cards
shogan191: If I Knew You Were Coming ... (Sun, 16 Sep 2007 02:26:49 GMT)
seremina, It was a pretty simple untechie thing actually. My computer was acting buggy. Slow to load, not responding, etc. I downloaded the free AVG AntiVirus program. Ran it and it removed and quarantined the problem. It's actually the first time I've ever had an infection, downloaded a free program, had it find something and remove it. I was thrilled. The problems with the ISP came from me gathering info and infected e cards intentionally in order to learn about them.

Jock, this wasn't really meant to be an article about teaching people to handle all sorts of security issues. It was just a small, lighthearted, writing about the latest E card situation. This was just ment to give the masses like me an idea of what it is.
seremina: If I Knew You Were Coming ... (Fri, 14 Sep 2007 23:37:40 GMT)

It would be helpful if you had been more clear what steps and products you used and how to tell you have an e-card bot. Not everbody is tech-wise. Articles that leave out important how-to's kinda make the articles less helpful. I do thank you for defining these e-card spam things, though.
Paliden31756: If I Knew You Were Coming ... (Fri, 14 Sep 2007 17:54:57 GMT)
Am sure this Article was intended to be a Self-Awareness type to everyone here, So I felt it addressed a lot of concerns as to where we can avoid such problems. I also felt that, Snoweagle had no intention to Disrespect anyone but his voicing that PC Pitstop has become PC Guess What ! Now, that's disrespecting a Web service that has helped many people since it's birth. Am very well experience in building my own computers and doing my own research BUT matters such as the article points out, it's a never ending task that needs to be made aware of more closely and to stay on top of, regardless of said experience.
Jock Snoweagle: If I Knew You Were Coming ... (Thu, 13 Sep 2007 23:25:04 GMT)
QUOTE(cmunson @ 5:05pm Wed Sep 5 2007) [snapback]1419594[/snapback]

Re: If I knew you were coming. No disrespect intended, but I find articles like this pretty much useless or helpful except to sow unwarranted suspicion in the minds of beginners particularly about whether their machines are infected or not. Would have been very helpful if the author had included first of all, the method by which he went about ascertaining whether his PC was infected or not, and secondly, included a link to the Antivirus Program which he claims is effective against Storm Trojan" or JSE-card-A Trojan.

Everyone experiences slowdowns in PC performance occasionally, and for beginners, the fact is most just don't have a clue why, and even when they do gather a little more knowledge and experience as to the likely cause, they seldom have any idea where to begin looking on their machines to track down and locate the likely suspect, let alone what to do about it. Sure they can google it to acquire an appropriate program to remove the offending virus or whatever if they have the forethought to do so, but first they have to know what it is they're attempting to remove. A little more help from us all in this area helps them learn more quickly and develop more confidence in dealing with some certain problematic aspects of their machines, and best of all, it gets them doing thngs for themselves instead of the inconvenience and expense incurred in taking their machines to the local dealer.

This is PC Pitstop, not PC Guess What.
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