Why am I receiving virus emails from old friends?

A customer emailed me, puzzled by why they’re suddenly receiving a bunch of virus emails from friends they haven’t spoken to in a number of years.

These types of mass-mail viruses can be very confusing, since they nearly always appear to come from someone you know.

Here’s why and how that happens…

Let’s say someone who you haven’t talked to in a few years (we’ll call him “Bruce”), who is part of the same “circle of friends”, caught a virus.  So the virus goes into their address book and starts mass mailing everyone in the address book, and spoofs who it is from.

Bruce’s address book:

  • John
  • Betty
  • Doug

Bruce gets a virus.  The virus sends an email to John pretending to be Betty, and an email to Doug pretending to be John.

Doug replies to John and says “You have a virus!” But John doesn’t have a virus; Bruce does.

It’s often difficult or impossible to track down the true culprit, and that’s why it’s imperative that everyone on Microsoft Windows have an up-to-date Virus Scanner such as ESET Smart Security 6.  It is also important on any platform (Windows, Mac, Linux, or even Smart Phone) that you be familiar with phishing scams, and be extra cautious what you open or click.