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Undeliverable message returned to sender spam

Posted on 2004-03-30
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-11
Several users are receiving messages such as the following

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Friday, March 26, 2004 7:38 AM
Subject: Undeliverable message returned to sender

This message was created automatically by mail delivery software.

Delivery failed for the following recipients(s):

The message you sent contained an attachment which the recipient has chosen to block.
Usually these sort of attachments are blocked to prevent malicious software from
being sent to the recipient in question.

The name(s) of the blocked file(s) follow:

To send this file, please place it in a compressed archive using WinZip ( or the archive software of your choice.

----- Original Message Header -----
Received: by mail18-red (MessageSwitch) id 1080315470766686_4382; Fri, 26 Mar 2004 15:37:50 +0000 (UCT)
Received: from ( [])
      by (Postfix) with ESMTP id EAF4B28A89C
      for <>; Fri, 26 Mar 2004 15:37:49 +0000 (UCT)
Subject: Re: Your picture
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2004 08:41:00 -0800
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
Message-Id: <>

Now of course the user never actually tried to send something to ATI, but one could assume that he may be infected with a virus that is trying to send itself out. However, latest McAfee/Stinger scans do not find anything.

I seem to think when I see these that it is likely someone else infected who has my user on their contact list which the worm uses to try and spread. The only thing I don't like about that theory is why I am receiving these messages with no virus attached, or indication that the virus was removed at the mail server. Thats what tends to make me think it really is nothing more than spam?

A google search ( on a key line in the message returns quite a number of essentially similar messages on various mailing lists...


Question by:Mooligan
  • 3
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  • 2
  • +3
LVL 14

Accepted Solution

JohnK813 earned 400 total points
ID: 10715009
Some thoughts:

Firstly, almost all the new viruses/worms have been spoofing the "FROM:" addresses in emails, so there's no guarantee the original email came from your user.  Of course, this also could mean that was spoofed, meaning ATI never got an email in the first place, but instead the virus is sending out this email.

Secondly, your_picture.pif is most likely the virus here.  The trick is either to get your user to open it to check it out, or to get your user to Zip it up and send it to ATI (doing the virus writers' dirty work for them).

Here are some possible scenarios:

1. Virus sends email to ATI with your user as the "FROM:".  User receives return email, wants to know what this "your_picture.pif" is that they supposedly sent, and user is infected.
2. Virus sends email to your user that looks like an email from ATI, user:
  a) clicks on your_picture.pif, infecting the user's machine
  b) zips file and sends to ATI, hopefully (for the virus writer) infecting a machine at ATI.

Now, as the first Google link (ComputerWorld Letter to the Editor) states, it's pretty stupid for a Sys Admin to tell people how to get around virus scans.  Plus, most viruses/worms like to avoid "support@" emails, because they'd get found out faster that way.

So, my guess is that this email was generated by the virus in an attempt to get your user to open "your_picture.pif" and infect his/her own machine.

Author Comment

ID: 10715194
Thanks for the reply john,

Thats what I thought as well, that both the addresses were spoofed, and that nothing was likely sent to ATI in the first place.

However, there is no actual attachment with the message which is what makes me question what this is. If it was simply a message like this, with an attachment, then sure its simply the virus using a totally false message trying to entice the user to open the item, but we are receiving several instances of these messages with no actual virus or file attached which is what makes me question what these messages are. I personally don't think they are anything more than spam, as I can't see any signs of infection and the message itself has no means of causing harm...

Expert Comment

ID: 10715549
netsky.Q does this. It will spoof a return mail and have a .pif or .zip attachment for the user to open. It isnt you that is infected but someone else with your email addy in their files.

just make sure you strip the attachments before your users can open it.
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Expert Comment

ID: 10715589
there is also the latest bagle that comes with no attachments but once opened it tries to contact a web server to do a fast download of a worm.

they really are getting to be a pain these days.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 10716174
In outlook, is there a difference between viewing in a preview window and actually opening the message?
LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 10716205
I've heard of the bagle variant that akboss mentioned, but I don't know too many details about it.  That seems to make the most sense, I suppose.  I had some other ideas but was able to rule them out:

1. DDoS on ATI, either by the virus, or by tricking the user into emailing ATI.  No, not all the "Delivery Failed" addresses are at ATI according to your Google search.
2. This is a virus email, but ATI virus scanners strip the attachment on the outgoing mail.  Once again, no, since this isn't just an ATI thing.
3. The virus writer messed up and forgot to include the attachment.  No, because there would be no way of propogating the virus.

My suggestions:
1. Check for "report a new virus" links (or other feedback forms) on AV vendor websites.  Contact them to see if they're familiar with this.
2. Check out the mailing lists on  I'l subscribed to a few of the mailing lists but having really been following too closely, so maybe I've just missed it.

Expert Comment

ID: 10720010
The passel of new worms sport a virtual alphabet soup of labels: "Bagle.q," "Bagle.r," "Bagle.s" and "Bagle.t." Some security firms have dubbed the new variants "beagle." They are mutations of the original Bagle worm first discovered in January.

Bagle exploits a flaw in Outlook, revealed in October of 2003, that allows a hacker to upload and execute a file on a user's PC without that user opening the file. Microsoft  has issued a patch for the flaw in October, but users who have not updated their systems with this patch are at risk"
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Tim Holman
ID: 10723632
Customers of mine have also experienced this problem.  Viruses are spoofing addresses and launching themselves directly from people's infected Outlook installations.  These endless mails are the result of large numbers of infected Outlook clients out in the open, not necessarily yours !

Expert Comment

ID: 10730898
these virus's also look at infected peoples contact lists, word documents and even webpages they visit to find new email addressed to send themselves to.

many companies have now adopted ethier:-

1) changing e mail addresses to andydis [at] from
2) incorporate antispam technology into exchange (comes free with 2003), or setup a completey new "spam gateway" in your DMZ.

if you would like infomation on a solution myself have supplied to many customers please feel free to drop me an email.

Author Comment

ID: 10754341
I was using this more as a discussion really, John gets points for first response although I thank everyone for their comments!
LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 10756923
Thanks for you generosity, Mooligan.  It's always a good idea for IT "experts" to discuss things like this - shared information on worms and the like help to keep us informed and on our toes.

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