Beware of a Short Email, Even if From Someone You Know, That Simply Asks You to Click a Link.  It Could Infect Your Computer- Virus Warning!

Summary of eRumor:

Various short emails have been circulating the Internet that encourage computers users to click a link to a web site. This is a trick that may lead to a computer virus.   Once infected a program launches in the background of the unaware user’s computer that floods the Internet with more emails that encourage friends and contacts to check out a link. 

The Truth:

The threat is real. This virus has been circulating since 2005 and it exploded once again on Internet during the summer of 2011.  It attracted the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which said these emails can turn personal computers into what it called a “Spam Zombie.”

According to a  June 20, 2005 article in Computer World  “Zombie PCs are computers that have been infected by malicious code that allows spammers to use them to send e-mail.”  It also said that the use of spam zombies is not a new concept and that the anti virus organization Sophos told them that 50% of the spam on the World Wide Web has been circulated by Zombie PCs.

In 2005 the FTC and 35 government partners from more than 20 countries around the world announced “Operation Spam Zombies,” to combat the technology trick.  It posted an information page about the threat:  Click for FTC page.

Computer users who discover that they have been hacked should immediately run a virus check and take the necessary steps to remove it from their systems.  After that, they should also notify all their contacts to warn them that they discovered the virus the sent the emails without their knowledge.

This serves as a good reminder to keep virus protection software current and check with your friends if they sent you such an email prior to clicking an unfamiliar URL in an email.

updated 11/14/11

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Some examples of the emails generated from zombie computers:

I’m not joking! It’s really your chance!…
http:// (link removed by TruthOrFiction.Com)

Hi! I think you need it! It can really help you in difficult situation!…
http:// (link removed by TruthOrFiction.Com)

Hey, hey
if you can use your email you can do this
http:// (link removed by TruthOrFiction.Com)
talk to you laterr