Recently there has been a lot of confusion regarding "AOL4FREE". The confusion has been generated by three separate events:
    1. The AOL4FREE Macintosh Program.
    2. The distribution of an AOL4FREE hoax message (virus), which was spread via email and usenet newsgroups.
    3. The distribution of a genuine AOL4FREE.COM trojan horse program which was spread a few weeks later.

The AOL4FREE Macintosh Program
This was originally written to provide illegal free access to America Online. In the March 1997 issue of the CSI Computer Security Alert the following statement was made concerning the creator of that program:
    "A former Yale computer science student has pleaded guilty to defrauding America Online. AOL estimates it lost between $40,000 and $70,000 in service charges because the student distributed his computer program, AOL4FREE, to hundreds of other users."

Note that any attempt to use the original AOL4FREE.COM program may subject you to prosecution.

AOL4Free is not a virus. It is a hoax. The "virus" does not exist. There is currently no virus that has the characteristics ascribed to AOL4Free. The e-mail "warning" has been widely distributed on the largest online service provider, America Online (AOL), beginning sometime in March 1997. Please ignore any messages regarding this supposed "virus" and do not pass on any messages regarding it. Passing on messages about this hoax serves only to further propagate it.

The AOL4FREE Virus Warning Hoax message follows:


    Anyone who receives this must send it to as many people as you can.  It
    is essential that this problem be reconciled as soon as possible.  A few
    hours ago, I opened an E-mail that had the subject heading of "AOL4FREE.COM".
    Within seconds of opening it, a window appeared and began to display my files
    that were being deleted.  I immediately shut down my computer, but it was too
    late.  This virus wiped me out.  It ate the Anti-Virus Software that comes with
    the Windows '95 Program along with F-Prot AVS.  Neither was able to detect it.
    Please be careful and send this to as many people as possible, so maybe this
    new virus can be eliminated.

The AOL4FREE.COM trojan horse displays a message listing the directories on your hard drive it is deleting and may be followed by the message:

A Trojan Horse is a program that deliberately does unpleasant things, as well as (or instead of) its declared function. They are not capable of spreading themselves and rely on users copying them. Because trojan horses do not replicate they are not viruses and are not frequently encountered.

It seems highly likely that this trojan horse was written as a response to the original hoax warning in an attempt to confuse computer users.

Please note: it does not attack users via use of the subject line of the email. The only way users can be damaged by this trojan is (like any other trojan) if they decide to run it.

We do not believe this trojan horse is particularly common.

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