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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

New Ice Age virus

CATEGORY: Publicity stunt virus alerts

A struggling rock band in St. Louis concocted the New Ice Age virus alert in February 2001 as a publicity stunt to promote their new CD.

The band — aptly named "Disturbing The Peace" — launched a seed email on 12 Feb 2001, coincidentally just a few hours before the Kournikova virus erupted into worldwide hysteria. (See below for related links.) The band's email declared a "national warning" from a fictitious firm called "Digital Technologies Programming Software Development Laboratories."

The hoax alert warned "THERE IS A DANGEROUS VIRUS AT LARGE" and went on to describe how "an unknown group of terrorists" stole "the New Ice Age virus" from their laboratories. The "company" announced it covertly writes software for the U.S. government's information warfare programs, and warned the stolen virus can infect every computer on the Internet.

"We are working around the clock," the publicity stunt continued. "We hope to have the NIA Anti-Virus up and running on February 15, 2001. It will be free and downloadable to the public. EVERY COMPUTER MUST BE EQUIPPED TO STOP THIS VIRUS!" It then provided a link to a website "for details."

The website redirects visitors to an authentic-looking virus alert on the band's website. Incredibly, the band doesn't try to hawk their CD when visitors reach the page. They want people to believe the virus hoax.

The hoax claims some companies were "already rendered useless" by the virus and lists four example domains. Clicking on those links produced an error message simply because no one owned the domains. Vmyths.com editor Rob Rosenberger later purchased one of the domains and pointed it at Vmyths.com in an effort to cripple the hoax alert. (Special thanks to Vmyths.com reader John P. Hogan for reminding Rob to do this.)

Vmyths.com obtained a nearly pristine copy of the seed email. It went to 26 users on AOL, Juno, Hotmail, etc. The band sent it to raw email addresses — no names — which suggests they picked unwitting users at random in an attempt to dupe them. We know one recipient forwarded it to 11 friends & family members, and one of them forwarded it to nine friends & family members...

We only know of 26 original recipients at this point. The band may have launched more than one seed email (conceivable), or they may have included some "blind copy" recipients (unlikely).

Only time will tell if this hoax grows legs....

Last updated: 2001/2/22