The "friendlygreetings" e-card that acts like a virus-Truth!

Don’t Respond to an E-Card Sent From “”Truth!

Summary of eRumor:

A warning is circulating on the Internet about a “virus-like” program that says a friend has sent you an e-card, but if you respond to it, all the addresses in your Outlook address book will be sent to the greeting card company.

The Truth:

The warning is true.  What appears to be an invitation to read an e-card actually forwards your Outlook addresses to a Spammer who will be sending advertisements to your friends about pornography.

The email arrives with a cartoon-like graphic that says “You have received an e-card.  Click here to open.”  It says it’s from,, or  In smaller print you are told that an e-card viewer plug-in may be required to view some cards.  When you click on the link to view your card, you are asked to run an installer.  You are also asked to read and approve some fine-print but since most of us don’t take the time to read that stuff, you don’t realize that that you have just approved a user agreement that authorizes all of the addresses in your Microsoft Outlook address book to be sent to the originator of the message.  According to Bob Sullivan of MSNBC, this is a scheme to collect email addresses for a Spammer and one who sends porn Spam.  CNN says this particular site, which has since been taken down, was operated by a Canadian company called Cytron Communications.

It’s not technically a virus since it doesn’t “infect” your computer or damage it and you have given permission for the email addresses to be collected.  It is misleading and sleazy and doesn’t disclose that the email addresses will be used for Spam.

Most legitimate e-card companies do not ask you to download a file.  They merely refer you to a safe website where your greeting card can be viewed online.

Virus experts are warning that there are other companies now trying this tactic.  They suggest avoiding installing programs from emails and that if there is fine-print, read it.  Also, Lawrence Baldwin, president of Internet security firm told CNN that he suggests  disabling the Internet Explorer function that allows browsers to instantly download ActiveX Controls. Doing so will cause a warning box to appear anytime such files are encountered, which could get annoying because Macromedia Flash, used to create Web animations, uses ActiveX Controls.

Although at least one virus protection program will alert you to the danger of the email, not all of the virus protection companies are classifying it as a virus and are not detecting it. 

Last updated 10/29/02