This morning, there was an email from my IT department warning me not to click on any PDF links and directing me to this ABC News story. A global virus attack was launched yesterday afternoon affecting the likes of Disney, NASA, and even ABC themselves.
Here’s how it works: You get an email with the subject “Here you have” and when you open it up there’s a short email about the “document you requested” and the PDF link to access it. Once you click on the link, the Trojan virus takes over your computer and sends out the email to all the people in your contact list. The tricky part is that the email would come from you. Everyone knows not to open emails that are from someone you don’t know, but this sets up a new problem where you have to be careful even if you know who the email sender is.
Last week, Secretary-General of the United Nations warned that these kinds of attacks could be the new form of war. Hamadoun Touré has urged that cyber security vulnerabilities could be the new wave of attacks, opening up a whole new kind of war.
The Department of Homeland Security and the US Emergency Response Team are looking into the problem, and Adobe has released a statement citing a “critical vulnerability” existing in Adobe Reader 9.3.4.
Here are some things you can do to add a little extra security in your email until this whole mess can be resolved:
- If you did not “request” a PDF link, don’t open a PDF link.
- If you don’t feel 100% certain about opening an email, don’t open it. Find the person it was supposedly sent from or send them a new email asking if they truly meant to send you something like this.
- If you think anything is suspicious, go ahead and delete it right away. It’s best not to risk it.
This email has spread like crazy through inboxes around the world, infiltrating even government inboxes and accounts. Until Adobe can fix the errors, use caution when opening any email – because now that the people who sent it out know the security vulnerability is there, you better believe they will continue to exploit it until there is a fix.