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Re: Fwd: FYI: Computer VIRUS--Rea...

> If you receive an e-mail message with the subject  line "Good Times", DO NOT
>read the message, DELETE  it immediately.  Please read the messages below.
> Some miscreant is sending e-mail under the title "good times" nation-wide.
>If you get anything  like this, DON'T DOWN LOAD THE FILE!  It has a virus
>that rewrites your hard drive, obliterating anything on it.  Please be

Not this again...

"Good Times" is a hoax. Period. Never existed, probably never will. This
went around a fair amount earlier this year, but has seemed to have been
"re-started" recently. Again, the "Good Times" virus does not exist.

=technical stuff that probably should be ignored=

The basic problem in writing an e-mail virus is that there are a really wide
range of systems where e-mail is sent to, and the virus would have to run on
all of them. For instance, I read e-mail on three different kinds of
computers, a SunSparc-10 (which uses the Sparc chip), a IBM PC Clone (which
uses a 486 chip), and a HP 9000, which uses a PA-RISC chip.  None of these
computers can run a program designed for another one. (For instance, can you
take a program from a Macintosh and run it unaltered on a PC?) There are
certain rare instances of a small program that does something "meaningful"
on two different computers, but I've never seen a compiled program that can
do anything on three different computers. (and also, "meaningful" is a very
meaningless term in the computer world. A "meaningful" program often only
prints out "Hello, World") This is why a e-mail virus really can't exist.

=very technical stuff that should be ignored=

Many years ago, there was a very definite security hole in the sendmail
daemon for Unix machines. The security hole basically allowed a programmer
to write a small piece of code that would be executed by that particular
version of sendmail. That particular hole was first identified in the early
part of the 1980s, and was quickly fixed. I very much doubt there is any
system still running that version of Sendmail out there anymore. This
particular problem would only affect you if you were using the mid-1980s
version of sendmail directly. If you are, you definitely know far more about
this problem than I do... [To clarify: There was a horribly obscure bug that
sort of did what "Good Times" claims to do that was fixed around 1986 and
DOES NOT apply to anything here. This is merely a bit of random trivia that
I'm keeping in my head...]

--the things you learn in Cornell's CS curriculumn...

Mark Handel -- handel@umich.edu
313.665.5483 -- 921 Sylvan Avenue -- Ann Arbor, MI 48104
http://rmc-www.library.cornell.edu/ -- http://sils.umich.edu/~handel/

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