Many of you, my co-workers have forwarded me email message “alerts” these past few weeks which always refer to a reliable person “in the know” who has information about a major virus on the horizon. These messages can almost always be ignored. The email message you received from the “reliable source” asking you to forward it on is the “virus” itself. We will talk about these messages in more detail during next week’s IT classes.
Here is some more detail about the history of these types of email “hoaxes”.
Email hoaxes are nothing new, dating back at least as far as 1994 with what is widely believed to have been the first email hoax—referred to as the “Goodtimes virus” or the “Goodtimes virus hoax” after the subject of the email. The message in the early version was short and to the point, advising recipients not to open email messages with the subject “Good Times” because doing so would ruin their files. This, of course, was not true, but in cases where the recipient complied with the warning, it obviously had the effect of ruining their chances of actually reading any legitimate email messages with that very subject.
Before email, normal postal mail (known fondly by many as “snail-mail”) chain-letter hoaxes regularly did the rounds, and sometimes still do even today. The difference between a simple hoax and a chain-letter hoax is that the latter encourages the recipient to forward the letter or email on to others, usually family and friends. Sometimes the hoax email claims that something good will happen to the sender if they send the letter on to at least 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 people, whereas others take the darker path of sternly informing the recipient that failing to forward the message to others will result in something bad happening. This could be illness, loss of income, the sky falling, or whatever the case may be (insert evil consequence here). Of course, both the “carrot” and the “stick” versions prey on people’s natural desires for good things to happen in their lives, and their equally natural desire to prevent or avoid “bad luck.” I’m sure most people don’t truly believe that something bad will result if they fail to forward the message, but many people are superstitious and probably take the view, “Well, it can’t hurt, so just in case…”
A minor variation of one particular hoax that dates back to at least 2006 (and possibly before) has recently resurfaced and is scaring people once again. The email looks like this:
FYI TO ALL.
Dave's brother is a very advanced programmer who does
computer work for a living and has a high up status with Microsoft. He
doesn't send these if they aren't real. If he says this is for
real, it for sure is. Be aware.
VIRUS COMING !
I checked with Norton Anti-Virus, and they are gearing up
for this virus!
I checked Snopes, and it is for real. Get this E-mail
message sent around to your contacts ASAP.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS WARNING AMONG FRIENDS, FAMILY AND
You should be alert during the next few days. Do not open
any message with an attachment entitled 'POSTCARD FROM
HALLMARK,'regardless of who sent it to you. It is a virus which opens A
POSTCARD IMAGE, which 'burns' the whole hard disc C of your computer.
This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail
address in his/her contact list. This is the reason why you need to
send this e-mail to all your contacts. It is better to receive this
message 25 times than to receive the virus and open it.
If you receive a mail called' POSTCARD,' even though sent to
you by a friend, do not open it! Shut down your computer immediately.
This is the worst virus announced by CNN.
It has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive
virus ever. This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is
no repair yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the
Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept.
COPY THIS E-MAIL, AND SEND IT TO YOUR FRIENDS.
REMEMBER: IF YOU SEND IT TO THEM, YOU WILL BENEFIT ALL OF US