not nearly as destructive as real computer viruses, hoax viruses can wreak
havoc for both beginning computer users and technologically savvy computer
users alike. Fortunately, a great deal of virus hoax information can be
found online. This information includes descriptions of real computer
viruses and virus hoaxes, instructions on how to spot a hoax, as well as
how to protect one’s self from both hoaxes and real viruses.
Additionally, many Web sites provide an index of known hoaxes for users to
reference. Hoaxes can be differentiated from urban legends and other forms
of social hysteria by the fact that hoaxes use the Internet and e-mail
systems to perpetrate their misinformation.
General Information The
best way to combat a hoax is to not spread it by e-mail. If you receive an
e-mail that you suspect to be a hoax, the number one rule is: Do not send
it to others. What are some other rules of thumb to remember when dealing
with a hoax? What are the risks and costs of hoaxes? These questions, and
more, are answered at the Hoaxbuster’s
site. An interesting article about how a hoax exposed a
weakness in Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail client can be found by following
How To Spot a Hoax There
are a few different ways to distinguish an e-mail virus hoax from a
legitimate virus warning. Generally speaking, real viruses are announced
through the news media. In fact, antivirus software makers do not
typically send out e-mail warnings of potential virus threats. You can
read about how to distinguish a hoax from both legitimate e-mail and a
real virus at any of the following sites:
Then, visit www.ciac.org/ciac/bulletins/l-117.shtml
to read an official bulletin about a real threat, the “Code Red Worm”.
Hoax Indexes Some
Web sites offer an index of known hoaxes. The hoaxes are described based
on hoax tracking information. By browsing these indexes you’ll be able
to figure out whether or not a suspicious-looking e-mail is a hoax by
comparing it to the known hoaxes listed. Visit any of the following sites
to view lists of hoaxes, characteristics of hoaxes, and hoax tracking:
Additional Links Hoaxes
are a lot like urban legends or other myths found in society today. Some
pose interesting points of view, some are just for fun, and some are
destructive. Read about hoaxes, myths, and legends at www.vmyths.com.
Another similar site is www.nonprofit.net/hoax/default.htm.
Here you’ll find information about “classic” urban legends, myths,
hoaxes, and general misinformation that’s being circulated.