What To Do About...
Warnings in Your Email
( These comments often apply to
Hoaxes as well.)
Has a friend or relative ever sent you an
e-mail warning that some terrible virus will soon destroy your
computer? How about an email offering you money ' if you send
their message to all your friends right now ' ?
Here are some things that you (and everyone else!) should do:
- Do NOT ( and I cannot
emphasize this enough! ) quickly forward the msg. to everyone you
There have been numerous FALSE virus warnings on the Net
(and "hoaxes" abound!); do you
really want to help people, or just add to the confusion?
- Reply immediately to the sender asking them how they verified
that the warning (or any other undocumented information) is real.
Here's a brief example of the points
you could include:
Thank you for warning me about the _______ virus. Obviously you
have good intentions, but since there have been so many false e-mail
warnings and hoaxes on the Internet, how do we know this one is real?
Even the CIOs of some corporations have even been 'taken-in' by a
rumor, so I simply wish to confirm the facts. Can you please send me
a link which has info about this new virus? (Some anti-virus software
company should already have data about it!) I want to have some sort
of reference to pass along as verification before telling anyone else
- Study these pages from other sites for a reference to the virus
name you were warned about ( or a hoax name related
to the subject title); hoaxes have been flying through e-mail servers for
years, circling the globe over and over again, so I recommend that you begin
your search with the "hoax pages" -- you'll likely find variations
in the wording between any warning you received ( if it turns out to be a
hoax) and recorded copies of the original from long ago:
Note that all the
links on this page are to other domains!
(They will open in a new window.)
http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html - The Hoax page from
AntiVirus Research Center
(SARC) website. (Norton Anti-Virus software.)
http://www.stiller.com/hoaxes.htm - Stiller Research's Hoax News
page. (Makers of
Integrity Master anti-virus software.)
http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/ - The Computer
Incident Advisory Capability
(CIAC) Hoax page. The CIAC is primarily a computer security
organization which provides "response teams" for all of the U.S.
Department of Energy sites ("Keeping DOE Secure"). This
page has links to EVERYTHING you should know about Hoaxes!
Note: Although the CIAC (or others) may appear to encourage
readers to pass along virus alerts, this is in reference to those in charge
of a government computing agency or company LAN system administrator,
not private individuals surfing the Net at home! (See
further comments on "chain letters" below, under step number
http://vmyths.com/hoax.cfm - Rob Rosenberger's Computer Virus Myths
There is much that you can learn here, look for your "virus"
now, but come back later.
If you still cannot find a reference to this warning, then you can
write to me using:
This Online Reply Form .
- If you do identify the warning as a
hoax, then direct its sender to the site(s) where you
found it. But please do
not embark on a writing campaign trying to inform
everyone on the Net! ( The only people who really need to
hear from you are those whom you may have already told yourself and
obviously the person who passed the hoax along to you! )
Any msg. which contains something like,
"please send this to all of your
friends," should be thought of as a "chain
letter." And as far as most ISPs and Routers are concerned, these
are often worse than any SPAM ads, because they have a
tendency to never die out! Without proper controls, such as a
closing date after which no one should relay a message, people
simply keep on sending these chain letters!!
The CIAC maintains
not only one web page, but three for various types of chain letters
hoaxes are chain letters really.
http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/HBThreats.shtml. Threat Chains,
http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/HBScams.shtml. Scam Chains.
- If the sender writes back with a reference, but it is
from some magazine, newspaper, or local "virus
expert," then realize that this does not actually
verify that the virus exits! ( It's a definite lead, but they may have
been deceived by a cleverly written message themselves.)
The bottom line here is that
only someone who spends time researching
viruses, and has tested
this particular virus on a computer, can actually be trusted
as an authority on it. (Too many people "cry
virus" whenever anything they don't understand happens on their
computers!) Verification must come from a recognized Anti-Virus authority.
If you still cannot find it listed at an Anti-Virus
website, then write to me for help (including all relevant
e-mail and links).
- If the sender writes back with references
from an Anti-Virus authority (such as Symantec, the CIAC, etc.),
then please forward the link(s) to me (making it easier for me to
Further Comments from The Starman
I've had this page here for years, and quite
frankly it's starting to bug me that so many people who should know better
continue to use their email programs UN-wisely! Not only do they pass along
rumors without ever checking them out; or, ask me LATER and then have to
admit to others they goofed, BUT far too many users are opening executable
file attachments (actual VIRUSes!) without ever thinking about the damage it
might do -- EVEN AFTER they've been warned! Why?! The author of one of the
last big email worms to hit the Internet said something like: 'Well, if they
opened an attachment and ran it, that shouldn't have anything to do with me;
it's their fault for doing so!' I have to admit that I kind of agree with him
when it comes to all the people who REALLY DO KNOW BETTER! I mean, come on...
Why, for example, should someone who 'claims' to be an upright moral
person, even think about opening pornographic picture attachments?! The only
legitimate purpose might be if a trained PC tech were trying to find out how
a virus/worm operates for an Anti-Virus company, or similar reasons. If not,
then in effect, they really did get what they deserved didn't they? FOR
ALL OF the NEW Internet computer USERS: I may have a great deal of
sympathy for YOU depending upon your particular situation and
circumstances... To help YOU out further, read my page(s) here on 'Surfing
the Net Safely' such as: How to Keep Viruses/Trojans
out of your Computer.
Just remember: Don't Open Email Attachments
or run any programs from un-reliable sources* without a very good
reason to do so(!) and you can avoid almost all of the REAL
viruses 'out there' today!
Even a good friend can be 'very unreliable' when it comes to computer
viruses! And most of the infected file attachments sent by email today are
actually sent by the worm itself to everyone in some friend's address book!
So what looks like an email from a friend may often be a worm/virus that
he doesn't even know about yet.]
Revised: 20 August 2001.
You can write to me using this:
Online Reply Form
The Starman's Realm Index Page;
Jump directly to my
Since July 26, 1998.