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Computer Virus Hoaxes

 

 

Computer Virus Hoaxes

Computer virus hoaxes are bogus computer virus alerts that are typically sent via email.  The email message offers a warning to the recipient about the possibility of viral threat to one’s computer. After explaining the possible dangers of the virus to one’s computer, it ends with a call to action encouraging the recipient to forward the email to their contacts to warn them about the said virus. 

In most cases, there is no danger directly involved with such computer virus hoaxes themselves. However, the danger comes with the suggested plan of action that is included in the “chain email” that is sent to one’s inbox.

Some virus hoax email would recommend deleting certain system files off the computer, indicating that this is the best way to get rid of the viral threat. In reality, it will only cause damage to the computer system even when there is no real computer virus threat.

It is easy to identify computer virus hoaxes since they exhibit common characteristics. The email message is often sensational in nature, such as warning severe damage on one’s computer system. These messages are composed in such a way that the reader will be prompted to take immediate action regarding the warning. In some cases, it will also contain announcements from reputable organizations to inspire credibility into the message contained in the said email.

One way to protect one’s self is to identify the common characteristics of virus hoaxes. The Antichrist virus hoax authored by Dylan Nicholas warned about a virus that was developed by McAfee and Microsoft. The email comes with a subject line “SURPRISE?!!!!!!!!!!!!” and attempts to destroy the zeroth sector of one’s computer system.

Another popular virus hoax is the Invitation attachment virus, which was developed by Jim Flanagan. This started in 2006 wherein an email spam recommended users to delete an email that comes with an invitation attachment as it will introduce a virus into the computer, also referred to as the Olympic Torch virus.

The recommended action for those who encounter computer virus hoaxes is to delete those e-mails. It is also not advisable to forward the email hoax to other users to prevent it from propagating the agenda of the malicious people who designed them. Instead, one must spread the word of warning in case they receive an email that is characteristic of a virus hoax.

Prevention is the best way to deal with these hoaxes and keep them from causing damage to a computer system. Some corporate users employ strict guidelines when dealing with virus alerts. In such cases, there is an IT department that is assigned to deal with the virus warning, if in case there is one.

For home users, if you receive one of these warnings via email, go to the internet and search for the topic first.  Do not delete any file or forward the message unless you are certain that the warning is true.

Computer virus hoaxes can indeed cause the same amount of damage as real viruses do as they can trick you into deleting important system files and they can spread rapidly on the internet like computer worms.. This is why users are advised to take more precaution when reading or responding to emails in their inbox. With this information, hopefully, computer users will be smart enough to take the right action in such situations.

You can find a list of popular virus hoaxes at Snopes.com.

 


 

 


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