Simon Ashton Email Hacker Hoax
Message warns that simply accepting an email from a sender called Simon Ashton (firstname.lastname@example.org) will allow him to hack your email account as well as the accounts of others on your email contact list (Full commentary below).
Update: March 2009
A new version of the hoax email combines the "Simon Ashton" information with the "Mail Server Report" virus hoax (Details in commentary below).
Example: (Submitted, April 2008)
Better safe than sorry!!
Send this onto your friends
IF THIS PERSON CALLED SIMON ASHTON (SIMON_25_@HOTMAIL.CO.UK) CONTACTS YOU THROUGH EMAIL DONT ACCEPT HIM. DELETE HIM BECAUSE HE IS A HACKER!!
TELL EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON YOUR LIST ADDS HIM THEN YOU WILL GET HIM ON YOUR LIST. HE WILL FIGURE OUT YOUR ID COMPUTER ADDRESS, SO COPY AND PASTE THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE AND FAST BECAUSE IF HE HACKS THEIR EMAIL HE HACKS YOUR MAIL TOO!!!!!..
According to this warning message, "accepting" an email from a person named Simon Ashton, who uses the email address email@example.com, will allow him to hack your email account as well as the accounts of other people on your email contact list.
However, these claims are unfounded. The "warning" is just a mutation of another hacker warning hoax that targets instant message users. As the following example indicates, the two hoaxes are very similar:
If somebody called firstname.lastname@example.org adds you don't accept it because its a hacker. Tell everyone on your list because if somebody on your list adds them you get them on your list he'll figure out Your ID, computer address, so copy and paste this message to everyone even if you hate them and fast cause if he hacks their email he hacks your mail
These bogus hacker warnings are just variations of a long-running series of hoaxes like the one shown below that claim that simply adding an email address to your list will infect you computer with a virus:
SEND IT ON PLZ ITS URGENT!!! IF STUNNER_6T9@HOTMAIL.COM ADDS YOU TO YOUR MSN DONT ACCEPT IT. ITS A VIRUS. TELL EVERYONE ON YOUR MSN BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON YOUR LIST ADDS THEM U GET THE VIRUS TOO.
PLZ SEND IT ON!!!!
Clearly, all three "warnings" are variants of the same basic hoax. Along with those listed here, there are literally dozens of other versions of the hoax. In many cases, the versions are almost identical except for the email address of the supposed hacker or virus. All are equally nonsensical and should be disregarded. Apparently, from time to time, pranksters replace one of the existing email addresses with a new one and send it on. Thus, at any one time, there may be a number of different versions of the hoax circulating.
Like other versions, this message implies that simply accepting the address into your contact list will give the hacker access to your email account along with the accounts of everyone else on your list as well. This is technically infeasible. Of course, a hacker might use clever ruses to trick you into actually installing malware that allowed him to take control of your computer. And if you inadvertently provided personal information such as a username and password to the hacker, he could possibly access your online accounts and webmail. However, just adding even the cleverest hacker's address to your contact list will not, by itself, afford him this level of hacking power. Some sort of file transfer or exchange of information would, of course, be necessary.
There are also no references to a hacker named Simon Ashton or his email address on any credible anti-virus or Internet security websites. Bogus warnings such as this do nothing more than clutter email inboxes, blogs and forums with even more utterly useless information.
In early 2009, I began receiving submissions of the Simon Ashton hoax that included extra information about a supposed virus that arrives in an email with the subject line "Mail Server Report". This extra information is also false. The "Mail Server Report" warning is a mutated version of the old "Life is Beautiful" virus hoax. The "Mail Server Report" version of the hoax is discussed in detail here:
This virus hoax warning should not be confused with a genuine threat that also used the subject line "Mail Server Report". The two are not related. For details, follow the above link.
An example of the new version:
IF A PERSON CALLED SIMON ASHTON (SIMON25@HOTMAIL.CO.UK ) CONTACTS YOU THROUGH EMAIL DON'T OPEN THE MESSAGE. DELETE IT BECAUSE HE IS A HACKER!!
TELL EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON YOUR LIST ADDS HIM THEN YOU WILL GET HIM ON YOUR LIST. HE WILL FIGURE OUT YOUR ID COMPUTER ADDRESS, SO COPY AND PASTE THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE EVEN IF YOU DONT CARE FOR THEM AND FAST BECAUSE IF HE HACKS THEIR EMAIL HE HACKS YOUR MAIL TOO!!!!!...
Anyone-using Internet mail such as Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and so on. This information arrived this morning, Direct from both Microsoft and Norton. Please send it to everybody you know who has access to the Internet. You may receive an apparently harmless e-mail titled 'Mail Server Report'
If you open either file, a message will appear on your screen saying: 'It is too late now, your life is no longer beautiful.'
Subsequently you will LOSE EVERYTHING IN YOUR PC,
And the person who sent it to you will gain access to your name, e-mail and password.
This is a new virus which started to circulate on Saturday afternoon. AOL has already confirmed the severity, and the anti virus software's are not capable of destroying it.
The virus has been created by a hacker who calls himself 'life owner'..
PLEASE SEND A COPY OF THIS E-MAIL TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS, And ask them to PASS IT ON IMMEDIATELY!
'Hacker warning' circulating via forwarded email tells recipients not to accept messages or friend invitations from a supposed email hacker named Simon Ashton.
Description: Email hoax
Circulating since: Jan. 2008
Email example contributed by Nic P., Feb. 6, 2009:
FW: Hacker Warning
*URGENT HACKER WARNING !*
IF A PERSON CALLED SIMON ASHTON (SIMON_25_@HOTMAIL.CO.UK) CONTACTS YOU THROUGH EMAIL DONT ACCEPT HIM. DELETE HIM BECAUSE HE IS A HACKER!! TELL EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON YOUR LIST ADDS HIM THEN YOU WILL GET HIM ON YOUR LIST. HE WILL FIGURE OUT YOUR ID COMPUTER ADDRESS, SO *COPY AND PASTE* THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE EVEN IF YOU DON'T CARE FOR THEM AND FAST BECAUSE IF HE HACKS THEIR EMAIL HE HACKS YOUR MAIL TOO!!!!!...
Comments: False. Email warnings about alleged hackers capable of stealing your personal info if you merely reply to their messages or add their names to friends lists are a dime a dozen (see more examples below), and based on a false premise, namely that it's just that simple to hack into someone's email or Facebook account. It isn't.
That said, such break-ins do occur, so there are two real threats every email user or member of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter should beware of:
1. Messages from strangers asking you for personal information (e.g., user name, password, phone number, etc.)
2. Messages from strangers containing links to unfamiliar file attachments or websites
Both are methods often used by actual hackers and identity thieves to steal personal information online. The first, often referred to as "social engineering," is self-explanatory, and, obvious though it may be, seems to work extraordinarily well on naive and unsuspecting users.
Don't reveal your passwords or other sensitive data to anyone!
The second method, which lures users into clicking links that download malicious software onto their computers, is just as effective. Said malicious software might contain, for example, a keystroke logger which records user names and passwords and transmits them to identity thieves on the other side of the world, or a program which turns over control of the victim's computer to a hacker (or to a "botnet" which can take over a vast number of computers at the same time), or both.
Don't click on any links sent to you in online messages unless you're familiar with the source and confident the link destination is benign.
Also, for security's sake:
Don't use passwords that would be easy to guess based on other information available on your website, in your Facebook or MySpace profile, or anywhere else online.
And, last but not least:
Do maintain adequate antivirus and/or Interent security software, including a firewall, on your PC.
Forewarned is forearmed!
More examples of 'hacker alert' email hoaxes:
Email example contributed by The Mills, Aug. 8, 2007:
WARNING. MY friend just sent me this.
some boy called email@example.com adds U don't accept it because he is a hacker. Tell everyone on your list because if somebody on your list accepts them U get get them on your list he'll figure out your ID, Computer address.
So copy and paste this message to everyone even if you do not care for them and fast because if he hacks their emails he is hacking your mail too! for facebook.......
Email example contributed by Ivette B., Feb. 28, 2008:
If some boy called KURT CHAPMAN adds u don't accept it because he is a hacker!!
Tell everyone on your list because if somebody on your list adds them u get them on your list he'll figure out Your ID computer address, so copy and paste this message to everyone even if u don't care for them and fast cause if he hacks their email he hacks your mail too!!!
Email example contributed by Anne T., Jan. 20, 2009:
Fw: F.W important!!!!!
If somebody called firstname.lastname@example.org adds you, don't accept it because it's a hacker. Tell everyone on your list because if somebody on your list adds them you'll get them on your list. He'll figure out your ID computer address, so copy and paste this message and send it to every one fast, even if u hate them because if he hacks them he will be on your list. sorry if you get this twice but better to get it twice than add the hacker!