South Pennine Boat Club

Viruses & Spam Attacks

Following a recent spam attack on several Club member's Hotmail email accounts, the Club Secretary has asked me to investigate.

This particular attack originated from a member's Hotmail account and sent malicious email messages to contacts in their Hotmail address book.

A recipient, who was also a Club member was fooled by the seemingly innocent sender's header and clicked the infected link contained in the message body which then reproduced the process and spread malicious email to other recipients. Some of these were also Club members. It seems likely this process was repeated several times.

After contact with some the victims of this scam it seems that there is a concern that this outbreak is in some way related to the Club website.

This is not the case!

For the sake of clarity I can confirm the Club website does not contain viruses, never in the past has contained viruses and, although nobody can guarantee, is unlikely to ever be the source of such an attack.

These malicious attacks are everything to do with emails accounts on large public email services such as Hotmail, Gmail and the like. These cases are well documented on the Internet. Club members were warned of such attacks in my recent article in Handspike.

What to do if you received a malicious email.

Such email is normally easy to identify as they usually contain just a simple sentence and a request to click a single hyperlink.  Even if the sender is a trusted colleague, under no circumstances click the link. The delete button is your friend here and may save you a lot of embarrassment.

What to do if you clicked the link

If you were fooled into clicking a malicious link in a recent email from an address at Hotmail or Gmail it is very likely your PC, and if you have one, your own Hotmail account will be compromised!

I am not a Hotmail virus expert but this particular strain of Hotmail virus seems to add trojans to either your own PC or your Hotmail acount access which leads to cloned recovery pages asking for personal data and in particular your credit card number - under no circumstances send those details!

Try accessing your Hotmail recovery page on an alternative PC or laptop which you are certain isn't compromised, such as at your local library. If you manage to recovery your account change the password as a minimum. Preferably delete your account and create another.

Your virus checker may not identify all infected files, but alternative programs will. As mentioned in the recent Handspike article Malwarebytes has proved effective in removing trojans and viruses from members laptops and tablets at recent Club tutorial sessions.

For external help Google "My Hotmail account as been hacked" but do not trust any support site that asks for your personal data or payment.

Stay Safe

Naturally some members will be alarmed that such malicious practices exist. Regrettably they do and is extreme cases can devastate your PC, laptop or tablet. If you haven't already, please read my recent article in Handspike on the subject of viruses and Internet nasties. Under no circumstances click any link contained in email, open any email attachment or add your personal details to any electronic form unless you are 100% certain of their origin and purpose.

I would never suggest anyone subscribes to public email servers other than for testing purposes. Broadband service providers usually offer multiple POP3 email accounts to subscribers and those should be preferred to public email services.

As always I am available to help. If you are concerned about any aspect of this news article please ask for a one-to-one tutorial at the next Club work party day or ring me on 01642 778414.

SPBC Webmaster

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