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Your Little Black Book

One great feature that's a mainstay of most email programs is the address book. Instead of having to remember the various spellings and sometimes cryptic renditions of everyone's email addresses, you can store this information in your address book and look it up by the person's name or other information. However, this same feature can be a huge risk when an email attacker writes a worm to exploit it. When a worm accesses your address book, it can propagate by sending itself to the people listed there. This can be a source of embarrassment and, in the case of business contacts, cause concerns about your company's security.

Case Study 4-1

The phone rang again. Harold almost hated to answer it. It was probably another family member asking about the email message. Harold had tried to explain it so many times; he figured he should have taped the explanation and just replayed it for each family member.

No, he hadn't sent them an email filled with porn. Well, at least not personally. His email account had been hit with a worm that had sent a pornography-filled email to everyone in his address book. No, he didn't have a problem and wasn't reaching out for help. No, he didn't plan to do this again. Yes, he was very sorry.

Aunt Gertrude wasn't impressed with his apology and kept talking about the gentlemen in her day. His sister Sally told him that she didn't appreciate that kind of trash, especially when her kids sometimes checked her email. His cousin Walter thought the email was “swinging,” which somehow made Harold feel worse than talking to Aunt Gertrude. Harold realized this email would be family reunion fodder for many years to come.



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