'Osama Bin Laden Hanged' Virus
Forwarded email alert warns that messages purporting to contain pictures of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden dead by hanging actually transmit a malicious computer virus.
Description: Email alert
Circulating since: May 2005
Status: Mixed (see below)
Email text contributed by Janet B., May 23, 2005:
Just now a message was received from the Israeli police:
Emails with pictures of Osama Bin-Laden hanged are being sent and the moment that you open these emails your computer will crash and you will not be able to fix it!!!
This virus is being distributed through countries around the globe, but mainly in the US and Israel.
Be considerate and send this warning to whomever you know.
Email text contributed by Elliott F., May 2, 2011:
Fwd: URGENT!!!!!!!!!!!!! URGENT!!! Verified by SNOPES
TWO SUBJECT LINES of which to be AWARE.
Just verified this with Snopes and it is REAL. ALSO WENT TO TRUTH OR FICTION, IT'S on their site also.
PLEASE INFORM EVERYONE you know!
1.) Emails with pictures of Osama Bin-Laden hanged are being sent and the moment that you open these emails your computer will crash and you will not be able to fix it!
If you get an e-mail along the lines of 'Osama Bin Laden Captured' or 'Osama Hanged', don't open the Attachment!!!!
This e-mail is being distributed through countries around the globe, but mainly in the US and Israel.
Be considerate & send this warning to whomever you know.
2.) You should be alert during the next few days:
Do not open any message with an attached file called 'Invitation' regardless of who sent it.
It is a virus that opens an Olympic Torch which 'burns' the whole hard disc C of your computer!!!!
This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address in his/her contact list, that is why you should send this E-mail to all your contacts.
It is better to receive this message 25 times than to receive the virus and open it.
If you receive an e-mail called 'invitation', even though sent by a friend.. Do not open it!!!
This is the worst virus announced by CNN, it has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever.
This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair yet for this kind of virus..
This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where other vital information is kept.
SEND THIS E-MAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!!!
Analysis: These warnings are based on a grain of truth. Antivirus software vendor Sophos.com confirmed in 2004 that Internet messages purporting to offer photographic evidence that Osama Bin Laden hanged himself actually contained links to a malicious Trojan horse file known as "Hackarmy," a "backdoor" program allowing hackers to remotely control infected computers. The threat was quickly resolved, however, when the website from which the file was being downloaded ceased to exist.
The more elaborate alert purporting to warn users against "the most destructive virus ever" is a hoax circulating since 2005.
May 2011 update: The killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. covert forces on May 2, 2011 has prompted the recycling of these old alerts. Once again, there's a grain of truth underlying these warnings. According to an FBI statement, hoax messages and websites purporting to offer images and/or videos of bin Laden's dead body may actually expose users to malware attacks.
"The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) urges computer users to not open unsolicited (spam) emails, including clicking links contained within those messages," the FBI advises. "Even if the sender is familiar, the public should exercise due diligence."
In addition to avoiding unsolicited messages and links, experts say the best general protection against such threats is maintaining up-to-date antivirus software on your computer. See resources below for more information.
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Sources and further reading:
Bin Laden 'Suicide' Virus on Net
BBC News, 24 July 2005
Fake Bin Laden Email Hides Virus
BBC News, 3 June 2005
Hackers Disguise Trojan Horse as Osama Bin Laden Suicide Photographs
Sophos (antivirus software vendor) 23 July 2005
About Antivirus Software
From About.com: How to secure your computer from virus threats and malware
Last updated: 05/10/11