Computer Virus Hoaxes - Email Virus Hoax

Computer virus can cause real damage to systems or can lead to data theft. The consequences of such viruses are lost time, programs that stop functioning and sometimes real money stolen. Computer Virus Hoaxes can have the same consequences

Computer Virus Hoaxes are usually distributed by email to warn recipients of a new risk to computer systems security. After detailing how this new virus is a grave threat, the email advises you to forward the message to everybody that you know, which then gives rise to a chain letter effect.

Assume a recipient of the Virus Hoax distributes it to ten people and each of those ten people send it to ten more people, and so on. After only six generations, one million false email messages will circulate throughout the Internet. By the seventh generation the number reaches ten million, and by the eighth generation, one hundred million email messages that serve no purpose whatsoever are clogging up networks worldwide.

This can effectively cause servers and routers (specialised computers that route Internet traffic) to slow down or even crash.

Usually such virus hoaxes are forwarded with good intentions. A classic case is the email warning about a virus called 'Deeyenda', circulating since 1995. The message claims that a virus called Deeyenda is circulating via email and goes on to explain that the Federal Communications Commission or FCC has issued warnings about this virus It also advises the recipient to pass the message on to everybody that they know.

Everything about the warning is totally false. Viruses cannot be activated by reading a text email and the FCC do not issue warnings about viruses. As well as that, there has never been a computer virus called Deeyenda.

Other computer virus hoaxes warn the user to delete particular files allegedly containing a virus. Such files are normally critical to proper computer functioning. Deleting them may have no immediate effect, until the computer system is re-booted and fails to start.

Combating Virus Hoaxes

One hint that a warning is fake is the use of what appears to be technical jargon. The infamous 'Good Times' virus hoax contained this warning: 'If the program is not stopped, the computer's processor will be placed in an nth-complexity infinite binary loop which can seriously damage the processor.' This sounds very scary, but in fact there is no such thing as an nth-complexity infinite binary loop. Also, no processor can be damaged by excessive use.

Computer Virus hoaxes frequently contain references to real organizations such as the FCC or an antivirus software company. If the warning is for real, it would be an easy matter to confirm on the organizations web sites. You could also expect to find references to a real virus threat in newspapers, on television as well as all over the Internet.

Although a lot of people have fallen prey to computer virus hoaxes, it should go without saying that one should never buy from someone unknown proposing to cure your virus infection. There are numerous legitimate antivirus vendors who either offer downloadable products or provide a service over the Internet. Just confirm to yourself that you know who you are dealing with by doing a little homework beforehand.