RealTime IT News

Blue Mountain Says Virus Rumors Hurting Business

Blue Mountain Arts, the online greeting card company, says it's the victim of a virus hoax that could hurt its reputation with Internet users.

According to the Colorado-based firm, a message began circulating by e-mail in late February saying Blue Mountain's systems had been infiltrated by an unnamed virus. The email warned recipients not to open any messages from Blue Mountain or risk having their computers crash.

Last week, Blue Mountain posted a notice on the front door of its site saying the warning is a hoax and that its computers are virus free. The company pointed out it's technically impossible to get a virus from a text-based email message.

Spokesperson Erica Wilhelm said the company has received thousands of inquiries from customers who said they were afraid to use the site or read Blue Mountain email greeting cards out of fear of catching a virus.

Blue Mountain operates the 12th most trafficked Internet site, according to recent Media Metrix figures. Wilhelm said it's too soon to determine whether the hoax has hurt traffic at the ad banner-supported site.

"Our main concern is that we could be losing customers who believe the hoax," she said.

So far, the company has no idea why it was targeted.

Blue Mountain has been involved in a lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. over the junk email filter in the beta of Microsoft's Outlook Express version 5. Blue Mountain recently won a court injunction after a judge decided that Microsoft's product was erroneously treating all incoming Blue Mountain mail as junk e-mail and dumping it in a trash folder.

Microsoft complied by pulling the Outlook Express beta, as well as the beta 2 for Internet Explorer version 5. The company also issued a press release last month criticizing Blue Mountain. The release quotes a Microsoft attorney as saying, "the ruling does establish a dangerous precedent that essentially substitutes the view of Blue Mountain Arts for that of the customer in the marketplace."

Wilhelm says Blue Mountain hasn't received any complaints from Internet users about its lawsuit against Microsoft.

"The only feedback we've received has been positive comments from our customers who want to see us continue to do well," Wilhelm said.