About Viruses, Hoaxes and Urban Legends
Welcome to the internet. Every few days, you will be receiving an
"URGENT" warning that you should "E-MAIL TO EVERYONE YOU
KNOW" (and even those you don't) to avoid some catastrophic calamity that
will beset your loved ones or your computer if you don't participate. Yeah
Who knows? Maybe its all an inside joke to generate e-mails, waste time
and overwhelm e-mail servers.
YOU! Every time you forward any of these hoaxes and legends, you become
a part of the problem. If you really want to protect your loved ones, and
your computer, take a few EXTRA minutes and find out what the real problem is,
Any e-mail that warns that "THIS IS TRUE" or "THIS REALLY
HAPPENED TO MY FRIENDS/COUSIN/PET/EMPLOYER/ETC." is suspect. Real
information comes from real sources, not from e-mail chain letters, for
reference, lets just call these chain letters "SPAM."
If you cannot trust SPAM for your urgent news, how can you
possibly identify important events that might affect your
computer, friends and family? Read on.
It may "Take Guts to Say Jesus" and its going to be hard to turn
down the free money from GAP/MICROSOFT/COKE/INTEL/BUDWEISER or the free services
from AOL but you really weren't expecting much anyway were you? Of course
you cannot ignore "sick and dying little children," the American Cancer
Society or the Make-a-Wish foundation, but the
e-mails you're receiving have nothing to do with either of these agencies.
If you really want to help them, try their legitimate web sites: American
Cancer Society and Make A Wish
|There is no current public technology for tracking every e-mail sent or forwarded, so:
(a) money is not being donated every time you forward e-mails to everyone
on your mailing list; (b) the United States Postal Service is unable to enact or promote
e-mail legislation, or taxes on the e-mail you send; (c) you will receive
"NOTHING" for forwarding e-mails.|
Your family is not under siege from "roach eggs in envelope
glue" and will not be killed by gang initiation rites for
"flashing headlights" or "using payphones".
But, suppose its real?
News: Check a real news source, such as CNN,
New York Times, ABC
News, or Philadelphia Newspapers
Check with real computer resources such as C-Net,
Can I find out if its just a hoax?
Of course. An excellent reference (includes a great deal of trivia,
and the history of these things) is The
Urban Legends Reference Page. You can even conduct a search using
keywords such as "gangs", "cancer", "envelope
glue" to find your topic of interest. You'll be amused, and
possibly embarrassed to find how OLD your URGENT warning really is.
True. There have been a few
viruses around lately, such as the "Love letter Virus", the "Anna
Kournikova virus" and the "Snow White and the Seven dwarfs"
virus. But, what about all the rest of those e-mail warnings you
received? Do you think you're just that lucky? Of course not!
Many of the supposed virus e-mails are merely hoaxes, like the Urban Legends
IS THIS VIRUS REAL?
Check it out. Of the last several real viruses, McAfee and Symantec
have posted warnings & information within hours of the discovery of the
virus. Go here:
Symantec Anti-Virus Resource Center
HOW DO I PROTECT AGAINST REAL VIRUSES?
1. Check every attachment to your e-mail before you open
it. (You can usually identify an attachment before opening it by
"right-clicking" then choosing to "view attachment" or
"properties.") NEVER open an attachment that is named, or
includes in the e-mail "<filename>.vbs",
"<filename>.exe" unless you are certain of the attachment's
origin. These extensions refer to a "program" that will run
on your computer, not a "document" or "image" that you
2. Buy Protection. You need to spend a few bucks
(approximately $30.00), but BUY Anti-virus protection, from McAfee or
Symantec (formerly Norton). Information is available on their sites
referenced above, or at your friendly neighborhood computer superstore.
3. Update often. Once you have an anti-virus Program,
you need to update your virus definitions often to insure you are
up-to-date. Read your software literature for information on updates.
4. Backup Often. To protect against big-time losses to
your computer data, you should back-up often. Depending on your
hardware, you can backup your important documents and data to: another
driver; a Zip Disk, A Record able CD, an Online Storage and retrieval
Follow the steps outlined above:
- Buy Virus Protection.
- Keep your virus protection updated.
- Don't open suspect e-mail attachments.
- Verify "Urban Legends" at The
Urban Legends Reference Page.
- Verify possible viruses at McAfee
Symantec Anti-Virus Resource Center .
- NEVER send an e-mail to EVERYONE you know :)