Virus Hoaxes - As Bad As The Real Thing?
Posted by Paul Wilcox on: 2006-08-31 23:36:29
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A computer virus can cause a great deal of damage to your computer or can lead to the theft of your data. This can result in programs that don't work, real time money that is stolen, and time that is lost.
Hoaxes can cause the same problems.
Typically a hoax will arrive in your email and warn you of a brand new threat to your computer. Once the email outlines how the new virus works it asks you to forward the mail to others in your email address book. This is a chain letter that can cause a great deal of damage.
Virus hoaxes can travel far and wide. If each person who gets it sends it to ten other, and each of these ten people send it to ten more people, the list is endless. Once six generations have passed over one million false email will have been sent. By the seventh generation this number will be ten million. By the eighth generation it will be 100 million emails that have no purpose and are using up space on networks.
This problem can cause routers and servers to crash and slow down.
Many times a hoax will be sent with good intentions. For example, there was a warning in email about a virus that was called the "Deeyenda". It has been circulating since 1995. The email says that the Deeyenda virus is known to the FCC and should be passed on.
This email is false. A virus can't be run and activated just by you reading the email. As well, the FCC does not send out warnings about any viruses. They do send out information about spyware. A last comment: there is no Deeyenda virus.
A hoax can do a lot of damage. Some hoaxes will warn you to delete files on your computer that might have the virus. These files are often unknown to most users and are crucial to the correct running of your computer. If you delete them you might not notice the effect immediately. At least until you reboot your system and it won't start.
How to Fight Virus Hoaxes
The first thing that you have to do is recognize a hoax.
A good clue about a hoax is when a lot of technical words are used. A hoax called "good times" had this warning: "If the program is not stopped, the computer's processor will be placed in an nth-complexity infinite binary loop which can severely damage the processor". Although this might sound impressive there is no nth-complexity infinite binary loop. As well, no computer processor can be harmed if it's used a lot. It may be slow because you're running a lot of processes but it certainly won't stop working.
Some hoaxes will contain a reference to an organization that really exists such as the FCC or a legitimate company that sells antivirus software. You can easily verify this information if it's a real warning. And if it is real you should expect to see references of it somewhere, such as on television, as well as the Internet.
Make sure that you never buy anything from someone who claims they can fix any virus infection your computer might have. There are plenty of authentic vendors of antivirus software, many of whom have products that you can download or have services you can use via the Internet. You can verify all this information by reading trade reviews and testimonials from sources you can trust.
Don't end up being a victim.
Paul Wilcox writes about internet security issues for the Internet Cyber Security website. Get more helpful information and advice at http://www.internetcybersecurity.com
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