[ISN] MSN TV prank creating "emergencies"

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Jul 24 2002 - 03:44:55 PDT

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    [Its not a complete week for me unless there is at least one news 
    report about a Microsoft vulnerability. - WK]
    By Robert Lemos 
    Staff Writer, CNET News.com
    July 23, 2002, 2:15 PM PT
    MSN TV users are inadvertently calling emergency services after
    falling prey to a prank program that changes the daily dialup number
    on their set-top boxes to 911.
    The program arrives in an e-mail message with the subject line "NEAT"  
    and has been plaguing users since at least April, according to posts
    on newsgroups regarding WebTV, the former moniker for Microsoft's
    interactive TV service.
    "When my mother tried to log on to WebTV, it started to dial 911,"  
    said one woman in a newsgroup post. "She shut it off but we got a call
    from the police department anyway, checking to see if anything was
    "One lady in her group ended up with the sheriff knocking at her
    door," the woman wrote.
    The prank is not the first time that a malicious program has been used
    to call 911. In April 2000, the National Infrastructure Protection
    Center warned that a computer virus was causing infected PCs to dial
    emergency services.
    Many users have called the MSN TV program a virus, but it's not
    readily clear if it can spread on its own. One site claims that it
    will send itself out to others using the MSN TV box's e-mail system,
    but the report is unconfirmed.
    A Microsoft Network spokesperson said the program has not had a wide
    effect on the company's customers. "Apparently it was an isolated
    incident and it affected only a handful of customers," the
    representative said.
    The representative said a patch will be issued later today in response
    to the 911 attachment. "This should take care of the issue, so other
    MSN TV customers won't have to worry about it," the representative
    Many details of the program are still unclear, but according to a MSN
    TV-related Web site known as Diane's News Source, the prank code also
    changes fonts and other MSN TV settings. The messages carrying the
    prank program can come from many sources, including people that you
    seem to know and sometimes arrive with subject lines other than
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