Virus-Spoofs, Identify and Understand Their Dangers
Virus-Hoaxes and Hoax Alerts

"What are Virus-Hoaxes?

Virus hoaxes are false reports about  non-existent viruses,
                    often claiming to do impossible things.



    By their very nature, Virus-Hoax warnings are basically scare alerts started by hateful and vindictive people. The innocent users who receive them often think they are helping their friends by passing these fraudulent warnings to them.

Passing on these  hoax alarms can cause serious damage. As an example, in a large company with a private email network, virus hoaxes have caused whole e-mail systems to break down after dozens of users forwarded false alerts to everybody in their organization. End users should never forward virus alarms. Ever.

They are spread because it's human nature to fear and react to threatening situations.

Virus hoax messages warn the reader of potential disaster and demand that the warning be forwarded to everyone the reader knows. This often results in the hoaxes spreading faster than many viruses.

Another serious problem with hoaxes is complacency. An individual, maybe already embarrassed once for naively believing in a hoax, is much less likely to accept a valid virus warning as being true. Thus, a valid warning is met with disbelief and apathy. In such a case, a hoax can be considered a potential precursor to disaster.

Most virus writers prey on this trait of human nature
and use known hoaxes to their advantage by attaching a virus to their fraudulent hoax warnings. AOL4FREE began as a hoax virus warning. It was then  distributed with a destructive trojan attached to the original hoax virus warning!

The lesson learned, to repeat:  never forward virus alarms. Ever!

Next time you receive an urgent virus warning message, be sure to check the list of known virus hoaxes here at McAfee, at F-SECURE, or HERE at SOPHOS.

Virus-Hoaxes, myths and Urban Legends (preposterous or ridiculous folklore that appears to contain some truth) are more than just simple annoyances. Unfortunately, they can lead some internet users to routinely ignore all virus warning messages, leaving them vulnerable to a genuine, destructive virus. (Check for general urban legends).

What's OK to do about Virus Alerts.
Do exactly the opposite of what the hoaxes say you should do. Do not forward the false warning to others.

Do send a message to the person who sent you the hoax message. Tell him or her it's a hoax. Say, "Don't send it out to others."

You may want to point that person to this website, so they, too, can understand the nature of virus hoaxes.


"Follow These  Guidelines To Help Detect A Hoax"

Generally, a hoax will have some combination of the following characteristics (but not necessarily all of them):

It's a warning message about a virus (or occasionally a Trojan)
   spreading on the Internet.

It's usually from an individual, occasionally from a company, but
   never from the cited source.
It warns you not to read or download the supposed virus.
It describes the virus as having fearsomely destructive powers
 and often the ability to send itself by e-mail.
It usually has lots of words in all caps and loads of exclamation
It urges you to alert everyone you know, and usually tells you this
   more than once.
It seeks credibility by citing some authoritative source as issuing
   the warning. Usually the source says the virus is "bad" or has them
It encourages  you to believe  the alert by describing the virus
   in false technical terms.



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