The Horrible, Terrible Email Virus Conspiracy!

Fake News written by James Baughn on Thursday, May 4, 2000

from the out-with-outlook dept.

NEW HAVEN, CT -- The truth is out there... at the First Annual Connecticut Conspiracy Convention, being held this week at the beautiful Offramp Motel on I-95. ConConCon is billed as the largest ever gathering of conspiracy theorists east of the Mississippi. Earlier today, preeminent conspiracy expert Bob Smith (not his real code-name) hosted a roundtable discussion about possible government or corporate cover-ups surrounding the recent rash of email viruses.

Bob Smith started the discussion with his own pet conspiracy theory. He explained:

The new "I Love You" virus is not the work of some snot-nosed acne-laced teenager working from a basement in the Phillipines. It's actually part of a conspiracy concocted by the unholy alliance of Microsoft and several well-known and well-despised spammers.

You'll notice that the ILOVEYOU, Melissa, and Tuxissa strains all extract email addresses from the victim's system. This is a gold mine for spammers, who are able to use these viruses to harvest active email addresses for them. Everytime ILOVEYOU, for instance, propogates, it keeps track of all the email addresses it has been sent to, so that when it finally boomerangs back to a spammer, they have a nice convenient list of addresses to send "laser printer toner" and "get rich quick!" advertisements to.

Meanwhile, Microsoft laid the groundwork for these outbreaks by infecting computers worldwide with Outlook (or should I say, "Lookout!"). It's not entirely clear what Microsoft hopes to get out of this conspiracy; I do know they will probably received a very accurate listing of the email addresses of millions of clueless Windows users.

Another vocal member of the panel, Senator Fattecat (R-WA), strongly disagreed with Smith's theory. He argued:

There's a conspiracy here, but Bill Gates is not the one in charge. I place the blame for Outlook viruses squarely on the shoulders of Linus Torvalds, who is really a front for the horrible Helsinkian Underground. They've obviously subverted the Microsoft Marketing Department with Linux weenies who convinced other Microserfs that "automatically executed email scripting" would be a cool thing to have in Outlook.

Why? One, so they could compile a listing of clueless Windows users who would be ripe for Linux assimilation. Two, countless PHBs who received LOVE-LETTERS will now think twice about Microsoft Outlook, and might even consider migrating to that Linux thing they read about in a trade rag while sitting on the can. Can you say "Linux World Domination?"

Everybody broke into raucous laughter after Fattecat finished his spiel. "There are conspiracy theories, and then there are lunatic paranoid rants," one audience member shouted. "The only reason Senator Fattecat was elected last season was because of sizable campaign contributions from Microsoft. Now that's your conspiracy."

One discussant, a curiously shaped creature wearing what appeared to be a tuxedo, said:

What a minute, folks. This could be the beginning of an anti-Linux conspiracy. Right now hundreds of Anonymous Cowards are cheering the fact that only Windows boobs are victims of ILOVEYOU. I realize Outlook is so insecure that using it is like posting a sign outside your door saying, "DOOR UNLOCKED -- ROB ME!". However, Linux isn't immune. If I had a dollar for every pine buffer overflow uncovered, I could buy a truckload of fresh herring.

I expect the next mass email virus to spread will be cross-platform. If the recipient is a Windows/Outlook luser, they'll get hit. If the recipient is a Linux/pine user, they'll find themselves staring at a self-executing bash script that's has just allocated 1 petabyte of memory and crashed the system (or worse). If the recipient is a BeOS user... well, I'm sure there's security flaws is that, too.

Either that or the next mass email virus will only damage Linux systems. I can just see Bill Gates assigning some junior programmer that very task. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Another attendee speculated:

We're all overlooking the biggest evil conspirator of all: the US government. These virii were probably spread by them to justify more Net regulation. Email taxes... Net access license tests... NSA monitoring programs embedded in every copy of Windows ("For Your Protection")... death penalty for encryption use... it's all possible. Big Brother is out to get us!

The speaker's use of "virii" prompted the spelling and grammar freaks to enter into a frenzy, acting as if they were posting to Slashdot instead of speaking at a serious convention. After that died down, somebody joked:

If there's a government conspiracy, then we won't live to tell anyone about it. Think about it: we're sitting at the largest congregation of conspiracy theorists ever. If you were an NSA agent, wouldn't you be tempted to "accidentally" detonate a portable bomb nearby and wipe everyone out? Heck, they probably arranged this whole convention, those spooky bastards!

The roundtable discussion soon ended so everyone could attend the keynote speech at 11 o'clock entitled: "Elian Gonzalez Isn't Really An Illegal Alien -- He's An Illegal Space Alien."

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