Internet hoaxes...

Pug Bainter pug at
Tue Dec 3 09:47:30 PST 1996

Good Morning,

  Since I've seen a number of the Irina virus messages going around, I
  thought I would send out the following information for those of you


Phelim Uhtred Gervas  | "I want to be called. COTTONTIPS. There is something 
Barony of Bryn Gwlad  |  graceful about that lady. A young woman bursting with 
House Flaming Dog     |  vigor. She blinked at the sudden light. She writes
pug at           |  beautiful poems. When ever shall we meet again?"



                       The U.S. Department of Energy
                    Computer Incident Advisory Capability
                           ___  __ __    _     ___
                          /       |     /_\   /
                          \___  __|__  /   \  \___

                             INFORMATION BULLETIN

            Internet Hoaxes: PKZ300, Irina, Good Times, Deeyenda, Ghost

November 20, 1996 15:00 GMT                                        Number H-05
PROBLEM:       This bulletin addresses the following hoaxes and erroneous 
               warnings: PKZ300 Warning, Irina, Good Times, Deeyenda, and 
PLATFORM:      All, via e-mail
DAMAGE:        Time lost reading and responding to the messages
SOLUTION:      Pass unvalidated warnings only to your computer security 
               department or incident response team. See below on how to 
               recognize validated and unvalidated warnings and hoaxes.
VULNERABILITY  New hoaxes and warnings have appeared on the Internet and old 
ASSESSMENT:    hoaxes are still being cirulated.


The Internet is constantly being flooded with information about computer
viruses and Trojans. However, interspersed among real virus notices are 
computer virus hoaxes. While these hoaxes do not infect systems, they are 
still time consuming and costly to handle. At CIAC, we find that we are 
spending much more time de-bunking hoaxes than handling real virus incidents. 
This advisory addresses the most recent warnings that have appeared on the 
Internet and are being circulated throughout world today. We will also address
the history behind virus hoaxes, how to identify a hoax, and what to do if you
think a message is or is not a hoax. Users are requested to please not spread 
unconfirmed warnings about viruses and Trojans. If you receive an unvalidated 
warning, don't pass it to all your friends, pass it to your computer security 
manager to validate first. Validated warnings from the incident response teams
and antivirus vendors have valid return addresses and are usually PGP signed 
with the organization's key.

PKZ300 Warning

The PKZ300 Trojan is a real Trojan program, but the initial warning about it 
was released over a year ago. For information pertaining to PKZ300 Trojan 
reference CIAC Notes issue 95-10, that was released in June of 1995.

The warning itself, on the other hand, is gaining urban legend status. There 
has been an extremely limited number of sightings of this Trojan and those 
appeared over a year ago. Even though the Trojan warning is real, the repeated 
circulation of the warning is a nuisance. Individuals who need the current 
release of  PKZIP should visit the PKWARE web page at 
CIAC recommends that you DO NOT recirculate the warning about this particular 

Irina Virus Hoax

The "Irina" virus warnings are a hoax. The former head of an electronic 
publishing company circulated the warning to create publicity for a new 
interactive book by the same name. The publishing company has apologized for 
the publicity stunt that backfired and panicked Internet users worldwide. The 
original warning claimed to be from a Professor Edward Pridedaux of the 
College of Slavic Studies in London; there is no such person or college. 
However, London's School of  Slavonic and East European Studies has been 
inundated with calls. This poorly thought-out publicity stunt was highly 
irresponsible. For more information pertaining to this hoax, reference the 
UK Daily Telegraph at    

Good Times Virus Hoax

The "Good Times" virus warnings are a hoax. There is no virus by that name in 
existence today. These warnings have been circulating the Internet for years. 
The user community must become aware that it is unlikely that a virus can be 
constructed to behave in the manner ascribed in the "Good Times" virus 
warning. For more information related to this urban legend, reference CIAC 
Notes 95-09.
Deeyenda Virus Hoax

The "Deeyenda" virus warnings are a hoax. CIAC has received inqueries 
regarding the validity of the Deeyenda virus. The warnings are very similar 
to those for Good Times, stating that the FCC issued a warning about it, 
and that it is self activating and can destroy the contents of a machine 
just by being downloaded. Users should note that the FCC does not and will 
not issue virus or Trojan warnings. It is not their job to do so. As of this 
date, there are no known viruses with the name Deeyenda in existence. For a 
virus to spread, it  must be executed. Reading a mail message does not execute 
the mail message. Trojans and viruses have been found as executable attachments
to mail messages, but they must be extracted and executed to do any harm. CIAC
still affirms that reading E-mail, using typical mail agents, can not activate
malicious code delivered in or with the message.

Ghost.exe Warning

The Ghost.exe program was originally distributed as a free screen saver 
containing some advertising information for the author's company (Access 
Softek). The program opens a window that shows a Halloween background with 
ghosts flying around the screen. On any Friday the 13th, the program window 
title changes and the ghosts fly off the window and around the screen. Someone
apparently got worried and sent a message indicating that this might be a 
Trojan. The warning grew until the it said that Ghost.exe was a Trojan that 
would destroy your hard drive and the developers got a lot of nasty phone 
calls (their names and phone numbers were in the About box of the program.) 
A simple phone call to the number listed in the program would have stopped 
this warning from being sent out. The original ghost.exe program is just cute;
it does not do anything damaging. Note that this does not mean that ghost 
could not be infected with a virus that does do damage, so the normal 
antivirus procedure of scanning it before running it should be followed.

History of Virus Hoaxes

Since 1988, computer virus hoaxes have been circulating the Internet. In 
October of that year, according to Ferbrache ("A pathology of Computer 
Viruses" Springer, London, 1992) one of the first virus hoaxes was the 
2400 baud modem virus: 

	SUBJ: Really Nasty Virus
 	I've just discovered probably the world's worst computer virus 
 	yet. I had just finished a late night session of BBS'ing and file 
 	treading when I exited Telix 3 and attempted to run pkxarc to 
 	unarc the software I had downloaded. Next thing I knew my hard 
 	disk was seeking all over and it was apparently writing random 
 	sectors. Thank god for strong coffee and a recent backup. 
 	Everything was back to normal, so I called the BBS again and 
 	downloaded a file. When I went to use ddir to list the directory, 
 	my hard disk was getting trashed again. I tried Procomm Plus TD 
 	and also PC Talk 3. Same results every time. Something was up so I 
 	hooked up to my test equipment and different modems (I do research 
 	and development for a local computer telecommunications company 
 	and have an in-house lab at my disposal). After another hour of 
 	corrupted hard drives I found what I think is the world's worst 
 	computer virus yet. The virus distributes itself on the modem sub-
 	carrier present in all 2400 baud and up modems. The sub-carrier is 
 	used for ROM and register debugging purposes only, and otherwise 
 	serves no othr (sp) purpose. The virus sets a bit pattern in one 
 	of the internal modem registers, but it seemed to screw up the 
 	other registers on my USR. A modem that has been "infected" with 
 	this virus will then transmit the virus to other modems that use a 
 	subcarrier (I suppose those who use 300 and 1200 baud modems 
 	should be immune). The virus then attaches itself to all binary 
 	incoming data and infects the host computer's hard disk. The only 
 	way to get rid of this virus is to completely reset all the modem 
 	registers by hand, but I haven't found a way to vaccinate a modem 
 	against the virus, but there is the possibility of building a 
 	subcarrier filter. I am calling on a 1200 baud modem to enter this 
 	message, and have advised the sysops of the two other boards 
 	(names withheld). I don't know how this virus originated, but I'm 
 	sure it is the work of someone in the computer telecommunications 
 	field such as myself. Probably the best thing to do now is to 
 	stick to 1200 baud until we figure this thing out.

	Mike RoChenle

This bogus virus description spawned a humorous alert by Robert Morris III :

 	Date: 11-31-88 (24:60)	Number: 32769
 	To: ALL	Refer#: NONE
 	Warning: There's a new virus on the loose that's worse than 
 	anything I've seen before! It gets in through the power line, 
 	riding on the powerline 60 Hz subcarrier. It works by changing the 
 	serial port pinouts, and by reversing the direction one's disks 
 	spin. Over 300,000 systems have been hit by it here in Murphy, 
 	West Dakota alone! And that's just in the last 12 minutes.
	It attacks DOS, Unix, TOPS-20, Apple-II, VMS, MVS, Multics, Mac, 
 	RSX-11, ITS, TRS-80, and VHS systems.
 	To prevent the spresd of the worm:
 	1) Don't use the powerline.
 	2) Don't use batteries either, since there are rumors that this 
 	  virus has invaded most major battery plants and is infecting the 
 	  positive poles of the batteries. (You might try hooking up just 
 	  the negative pole.)
 	3) Don't upload or download files.
 	4) Don't store files on floppy disks or hard disks.
 	5) Don't read messages. Not even this one!
 	6) Don't use serial ports, modems, or phone lines.
 	7) Don't use keyboards, screens, or printers.
 	8) Don't use switches, CPUs, memories, microprocessors, or 
 	9) Don't use electric lights, electric or gas heat or 
 	  airconditioning, running water, writing, fire, clothing or the 
 	I'm sure if we are all careful to follow these 9 easy steps, this 
 	virus can be eradicated, and the precious electronic flui9ds of 
 	our computers can be kept pure.
 	---RTM III

Since that time virus hoaxes have flooded the Internet.With thousands of 
viruses worldwide, virus paranoia in the community has risen to an extremely 
high level. It is this paranoia that fuels virus hoaxes. A good example of 
this behavior is the "Good Times" virus hoax which started in 1994 and is 
still circulating the Internet today. Instead of spreading from one computer 
to another by itself, Good Times relies on people to pass it along. 

How to Identify a Hoax

There are several methods to identify virus hoaxes, but first consider what 
makes a successful hoax on the Internet. There are two known factors that make
a successful virus hoax, they are: (1) technical sounding language, and 
(2) credibility by association. If the warning uses the proper technical 
jargon, most individuals, including technologically savy individuals, tend to 
believe the warning is real. For example, the Good Times hoax says that 
"...if the program is not stopped, the computer's processor will be placed in 
an nth-complexity infinite binary loop which can severely damage the 
processor...". The first time you read this, it sounds like it might be 
something real. With a little research, you find that there is no such thing 
as an nth-complexity infinite binary loop and that processors are designed 
to run loops for weeks at a time without damage.

When we say credibility by association we are referring to whom sent the 
warning. If the janitor at a large technological organization sends a warning
to someone outside of that organization, people on the outside tend to believe
the warning because the company should know about those things. Even though 
the person sending the warning may not have a clue what he is talking about, 
the prestigue of the company backs the warning, making it appear real. If a 
manager at the company sends the warning, the message is doubly backed by the
company's and the manager's reputations. 

Individuals should also be especially alert if the warning urges you to pass 
it on to your friends. This should raise a red flag that the warning may be 
a hoax. Another flag to watch for is when the warning indicates that it is a 
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) warning. According to the FCC, they 
have not and never will disseminate warnings on viruses. It is not part of 
their job. 

CIAC recommends that you DO NOT circulate virus warnings without first 
checking with an authoritative source. Authoritative sources are your computer
system security administrator or a computer incident advisory team. Real 
warnings about viruses and other network problems are issued by different 
response teams (CIAC, CERT, ASSIST, NASIRC, etc.) and are digitally signed by 
the sending team using PGP. If you download a warning from a teams web site or
validate the PGP signature, you can usually be assured that the warning is 
real. Warnings without the name of the person sending the original notice, or 
warnings with names, addresses and phone numbers that do not actually exist 
are probably hoaxes.

What to Do When You Receive a Warning
Upon receiving a warning, you should examine its PGP signature to see that it 
is from a real response team or antivirus organization. To do so, you will
need a copy of the PGP software and the public signature of the team that
sent the message. The CIAC signature is available from the CIAC web server 

If there is no PGP signature, see if the warning includes the name of the 
person submitting the original warning. Contact that person to see if he/she
really wrote the warning and if he/she really touched the virus. If he/she is 
passing on a rumor or if the address of the person does not exist or if 
there is any questions about theauthenticity or the warning, do not circulate 
it to others. Instead, send the warning to your computer security manager or 
incident response team and let them validate it. When in doubt, do not send
it out to the world. Your computer security managers and the incident response
teams teams have experts who try to stay current on viruses and their warnings.
In addition, most anti-virus companies have a web page containing information 
about most known viruses and hoaxes. You can also call or check the web site 
of the company that produces the product that is supposed to contain the virus.
Checking the PKWARE site for the current releases of PKZip would stop the 
circulation of the warning about PKZ300 since there is no released version 3 
of PKZip. Another useful web site is the "Computer Virus Myths home page" 
( which contains descriptions of several known 
hoaxes. In most cases, common sense would eliminate Internet hoaxes.

- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

CIAC, the Computer Incident Advisory Capability, is the computer
security incident response team for the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) and the emergency backup response team for the National
Institutes of Health (NIH). CIAC is located at the Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory in Livermore, California. CIAC is also a founding
member of FIRST, the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams, a
global organization established to foster cooperation and coordination
among computer security teams worldwide.

CIAC services are available to DOE, DOE contractors, and the NIH. CIAC
can be contacted at:
    Voice:    +1 510-422-8193
    FAX:      +1 510-423-8002
    STU-III:  +1 510-423-2604
    E-mail:   ciac at

For emergencies and off-hour assistance, DOE, DOE contractor sites,
and the NIH may contact CIAC 24-hours a day. During off hours (5PM -
8AM PST), call the CIAC voice number 510-422-8193 and leave a message,
or call 800-759-7243 (800-SKY-PAGE) to send a Sky Page. CIAC has two
Sky Page PIN numbers, the primary PIN number, 8550070, is for the CIAC
duty person, and the secondary PIN number, 8550074 is for the CIAC
Project Leader.

Previous CIAC notices, anti-virus software, and other information are
available from the CIAC Computer Security Archive.

   World Wide Web:
   Anonymous FTP: (
   Modem access:        +1 (510) 423-4753 (28.8K baud)
                        +1 (510) 423-3331 (28.8K baud)

CIAC has several self-subscribing mailing lists for electronic
1. CIAC-BULLETIN for Advisories, highest priority - time critical
   information and Bulletins, important computer security information;
2. CIAC-NOTES for Notes, a collection of computer security articles;
3. SPI-ANNOUNCE for official news about Security Profile Inspector
   (SPI) software updates, new features, distribution and
4. SPI-NOTES, for discussion of problems and solutions regarding the
   use of SPI products.

Our mailing lists are managed by a public domain software package
called ListProcessor, which ignores E-mail header subject lines. To
subscribe (add yourself) to one of our mailing lists, send the
following request as the E-mail message body, substituting
valid information for LastName FirstName and PhoneNumber when sending

E-mail to       ciac-listproc at
        subscribe list-name LastName, FirstName PhoneNumber
  e.g., subscribe ciac-notes OHara, Scarlett W. 404-555-1212 x36

You will receive an acknowledgment containing address, initial PIN,
and information on how to change either of them, cancel your
subscription, or get help.

PLEASE NOTE: Many users outside of the DOE, ESnet, and NIH computing
communities receive CIAC bulletins.  If you are not part of these
communities, please contact your agency's response team to report
incidents. Your agency's team will coordinate with CIAC. The Forum of
Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST) is a world-wide
organization. A list of FIRST member organizations and their
constituencies can be obtained by sending email to
docserver at with an empty subject line and a message body
containing the line: send first-contacts.

This document was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an
agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States
Government nor the University of California nor any of their
employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any
legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or
usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process
disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately
owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial products,
process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or
otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement,
recommendation or favoring by the United States Government or the
University of California. The views and opinions of authors expressed
herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States
Government or the University of California, and shall not be used for
advertising or product endorsement purposes.

LAST 10 CIAC BULLETINS ISSUED (Previous bulletins available from CIAC)

G-43: Vulnerabilities in Sendmail
G-44: SCO Unix Vulnerability
G-45: Vulnerability in HP VUE
G-46: Vulnerabilities in Transarc DCE and DFS
G-47: Unix FLEXlm Vulnerabilities
G-48: TCP SYN Flooding and IP Spoofing Attacks
H-01: Vulnerabilities in bash
H-02: SUN's TCP SYN Flooding Solutions
H-03: HP-UX_suid_Vulnerabilities
H-04: HP-UX  Ping Vulnerability

RECENT CIAC NOTES ISSUED (Previous Notes available from CIAC)

Notes 07 - 3/29/95     A comprehensive review of SATAN

Notes 08 - 4/4/95      A Courtney update

Notes 09 - 4/24/95     More on the "Good Times" virus urban legend

Notes 10 - 6/16/95     PKZ300B Trojan, Logdaemon/FreeBSD, vulnerability
                       in S/Key, EBOLA Virus Hoax, and Caibua Virus

Notes 11 - 7/31/95     Virus Update, Hats Off to Administrators,
                       America On-Line Virus Scare, SPI 3.2.2 Released,
                       The Die_Hard Virus

Notes 12 - 9/12/95     Securely configuring Public Telnet Services, X
                       Windows, beta release of Merlin, Microsoft Word
                       Macro Viruses, Allegations of Inappropriate Data
                       Collection in Win95

Notes 96-01 - 3/18/96  Java and JavaScript Vulnerabilities, FIRST
                       Conference Announcement, Security and Web Search
                       Engines, Microsoft Word Macro Virus Update

Version: 2.6.1
Comment: Processed by Mailcrypt 3.3, an Emacs/PGP interface


More information about the Ansteorra mailing list