Virus Hoaxes...

 

 

 

When someone receives an email message, possibly forwarded by someone they know, describing the horrible new computer "virus" that's just been released on the world, it's a fairly natural reaction to want to immediately forward the message to everyone you know. Resist the urge. Please.

Many, if not most, of the "virus" alerts you'll hear about via email are simply hoaxes. Perpetuating the hoax by passing it on to others without verifying the information helps the prankster create disruption and panic, and can cause others to either pass on the hoax or spend time tracking down the truth.

Virus hoaxes cost millions of dollars annually in time spent by countless people diverted from productive work, resources devoted to virus detection and defense, and bandwidth utilized flooding the Internet with useless and harmful email.

At least, before you take any action regarding a reported "virus alert", check with someone you trust, or check it out yourself, to make sure it's just not one of many Internet hoaxes.

Many hoaxes have made the rounds for months, even years, before an average e-mail user may hear about them. The "Goodtimes virus", by example, is a well-known hoax. In fact, it is probably the most well-known hoax in the computer world. The Goodtimes virus does not exist, has never existed --- it was a hoax when it was first published in December 1994 and remains a hoax today.

If you want to read about the "Goodtimes" hoax, go to the CIAC site notice at

CIAC NOTES 94-04c
and/or
CIAC NOTES 95-09
Symatec also has this description of the "Goodtimes" hoax:

http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/data/goodtime.html
The "Goodtimes" hoax claimed impressive creditials, stating at the front of each hoax letter that the "FCC" had issued a warning... Only one problem: the FCC doesn't issue virus warnings. See:

FCC Public Notice 5036
to view the FCC disclaimer.

There are a number of good documents on the web, some of them VERY lengthy, discussing the origin and spread of the Goodtimes hoax, if you are interested. Other virus/trojan hoaxes include: PKZ300, Irina, Good Times Spoof, Deeyenda, Ghost , PENPAL GREETINGS!, Make Money Fast, NaughtyRobot, AOL4FREE, Join the Crew, Death Ray, AOL V4.0 Cookie.

You can find a excellent article on Internet Hoaxes and a description of all those listed here at:

CIAC Interent Hoaxes
Most virus "alerts" are posted to LARGE groups of people. Many people simply blindly repost any "alert" they see to everyone they know. Resist the urge.

If you receive a virus alert from anyone, one thing to check for is if provides any reliable web links to sites you can trust to validate the information given in the warning letter. If there are no links shown, or you follow a link mentioned and it is non-existent, be very suspicious.


A suggestion to you is never trust any virus warning that can't be verified, through at least one URL in the warning, at a legitimate (a URL you can verify independently) virus-expert site, such as the CIAC homepage, Computer Virus Myths homepage, or a major Anti-Virus software manufacturer's homepage, such as:

Symantec Antivirus Research Center
Dr. Solomon's Virus Central
DataFellows Virus Information Center
Stiller Research Virus Information
Virus Bulletin Home Page
Joe Well's Wild Lists - Viruses in the wild.
NIST Virus Information Page
McAfee Virus Pages
Sophos Virus Information Page
Seven Locks Software
Cheyenne Security Center

You don't have to be a virus expert - you just need to know where to find them.

If you are interested in keeping up-to-date with regard to real computer virus alerts, as well as known hoaxes, consider subscribing to to the CIAC newsletters at:

http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIACMailingLists.html

The CIAC home page is:http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/
and possibly joining VIRUS-L (if you're really committed to tracking viruses) or following USENET COMP.VIRUS postings. Go to:

http://www.bocklabs.wisc.edu/~janda/virl_faq.html

-for a FAQ about COMP.VIRUS and VIRUS-L and how to join them.

You might also check out the:

Computer Virus Myths homepage at: http://kumite.com/myths/
which is an excellent resource for information on a variety of computer virus myths, chain letter hoaxes, and other urban legends.