Animesh Pathak's Crazy Ideas

Friday, March 04, 2005

Idea #2: The birthday virus!

Hi all readers,
I have been asked about my next idea for some time now, so hear goes:

Since yesterday (march 3) was my birthday, I received a lot of e-cards and emails [thanks to all of you who sent them]. However, I realised that the occasion made me check my mail more frequently - and more prone to opening attachments.

So, imagine that it is your birthday and you receive an email from one of your friends with Happy Birthday as the subject and a generic birthday message in content. Attached is a zip file which (allegedly) is a nice card for you.

Now, ask yourself as to how likely you are to open that attachment, something that you will not do in a general scenario to a random email.

Scary, isn't it? The thought that this can be exploited by a virus/worm/trojan.

The algorithm is very simple:
1. Scan infected machine for calendar app (MS Outlook, Mozilla Sunbird etc.) and glean out birthdays and other important events (anniversaries etc).
2. Send a copy of the infectious program in a zip file or something with a generic birthday (or other relevent) message to appropriate people in the address book.

That's it!

Major Con:
1. The virus cannot spread so fast since only so many people you know have the same birthday.
A. Well, if I get a card even today or tomorrow from a friend, I still have a high probability of opening it, 1-2 days after my birthday, so that increases the infection circle. Also, a virus sitting on a person's machine and not getting cleaned will have the chance to wish a lot of his/her friends in the months that it stays in that machine. Basically, given the high probability of infection, maybe this way of spreading can be an extra way by which the malware can hop hosts.

So here it is people, be careful of those birthday emails. I have not seen something like this yet, but very soon... someone might decide to add this to their arsenal.

As always, comments are most welcome. The ones on the previous idea were pretty good!