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That Darn SULFNBK returns

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I can just see the guy, hunched over a computer in some dim, crowded garret somewhere, frantically typing out a code that will erase hard drives and cause havoc on innumerable computer systems throughout the entire networked world. These are the virus writers, the nameless Don Quixotes of the world who tilt at the windmill of technology and bring us all so easily to our knees.

    EXCEPT FOR MAC USERS– I know, I know, you guys don’t get viruses, or at least, you don’t get many. It’s one of the truly wonderful traits of the MacIntosh system, that and the cadres of intelligent and wonderful people who choose to use them for their computing needs.

    Back in the real world, however, the many millions of us who use PCs are indeed vulnerable to the hacker’s weapon, and we live in dread of one of the thousands of viruses out there infecting our machines. Not in so much dread that we do the things we should to protect ourselves from them—things like not opening email attachments from people we don’t know, or from people we DO know but didn’t expect to get an attachment from. And not enough to purchase a good quality anti-virus program, and keep it updated.

    We worry enough to share with everyone on our email list news of the newest viruses, however, and care enough (most of the time) to let folks know if we’ve inadvertently infected them. Which is undoubtedly why Dennis (yes, our very own Dennis) sent me an email telling me he’d likely infected my computer with the SULFNBK virus. God love the boy… it’s a perfect example of that phrase about not being a prophet in your own home, or something like that.

    Okay, rule number one, folks: Don’t believe everything you read. And rule number two: Check out information with a reputable source BEFORE you act upon it.

    Not that Dennis was alone in believing he’d been felled by Sulfnbk. “It lies dormant for 14 days, then it kills your hard drive,” the rapidly circulating emails warn. Readers are instructed to do a search on their computer for the file name sulfnbk.exe. “If this file shows up (it's an ugly blackish icon that will have the name sulfnbk.exe) DO NOT OPEN IT! Delete it!” we’re told.

    I think the guys who can’t actually write viruses themselves write urban legends, instead.

    David Emery, who keeps a database of urban legends at his website, www.urbanlegends.about.com, had this to say about Sulfnbk. “Sulfnbk.exe is a standard Windows system file. Leave it alone.”

    The warning regarding sulfnbk likely arose because of the Magistr worm virus, which sent an infected copy of sulfnbk to your computer via email. The hackers have paid attention to the uproar created over Sulfnbk, however, and now some of the Sulfnbk warning emails are carrying the Magistr virus.

    If you want to find out if your computer is infected with a virus, go to www.housecall.antivirus.com, the Internet home of PC-Cillin anti-virus software. They will perform a free check of your hard drive, plus give instructions for how to delete any viruses found. They will also give you instructions as to how to restore the Sulfnbk file to your Windows system.

    A quick search for free anti-virus software on the Internet should send you to some good sites that will give you at least some protection if you choose not to purchase a high-quality software program.

    Emery offers some very good advice about protecting yourself from viruses in virtual land. “As a general rule, paying attention to forwarded email warnings is the worst way to try to protect yourself from viruses — and not just because the majority of virus warnings are hoaxes. In a sense, all virus warnings — even the accurate ones — are misleading, because they give the false impression that as long as you're watching out for file attachments with specific names you will be safe. The reality is that you put yourself at risk by downloading any executable file by any name (and some viruses are even designed to rename themselves or send themselves out under randomly varying names). Much, much, much more important than reading virus warnings are the simple measures of 1) always being very careful what you download, and 2) scanning your hard drive regularly.”


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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

urban legends, SULFNBK, computer virus

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