By Leo Notenboom
You’re minding your own business and one day you get email
from someone you’ve never heard of and they’re asking you to
stop sending them email. Or worse, they’re angry. Or worse
yet, they accuse you of sending them a virus! But you don’t
know them, you’ve never heard of them, and you know you’ve
never sent them email.
Welcome to the world of viruses where you can get the blame
for someone else’s infection. And there’s worse news to
Before I get to that, there is always a small possibility
that your email account has been compromised. The solution
there is simple: change your password immediately. That
should prevent someone who’s using your account for
malicious purposes from continuing, assuming you’ve chosen a
But these days that’s not the most common cause for the
situation I’ve described, viruses are. And what’s worse,
there’s almost nothing you can do.
The MyDoom/Novarg virus currently running rampant is a great example. The virus infects someone’s machine and then looks in the email address book on that machine and emails a copy of itself to everyone it finds. What it also does is forge the “From:” address for the email that it sends. What does it use to forge the address? Why, the addresses in the address book, of course. So the infected machine will send email to everyone in the address book, looking as if it was sent by other people in that address book even though it was not.
[This post is excerpted with Leo's permission from his Ask Leo blog.]
Leo Notenboom has been involved in the tech industry for nearly 30 years. After retiring from an 18 year career as a Microsoft Software Engineer Leo went on to create Ask Leo!, a free web site where he answers real questions from ordinary computer users.
Look for Leo’s insight in PC Pitstop monthly newsletters and highlighted at techtalk.pcpitstop.com.
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Twitter URL: http://twitter.com/askleo
About Leo Notenboom
Leo A. Notenboom is the owner of Puget Sound Software, LLC and the Leo in Ask Leo!. Leo has been in the personal computer and software industry since 1979, as a software engineer, a manager of software engineers, and as a consultant. In 1983 Leo joined what was then a medium sized local company called Microsoft and spent the next 18 years in a wide variety of groups working on a wide variety of software. If you're running Microsoft Windows, if you've used a Microsoft development tool or Microsoft Money, or if you've ever purchased a ticket through Expedia, there's a good chance you've been touched by some of his work. And of course, since 2003, Leo has been answering your tech questions on Ask Leo!