(1/23/2004) Remember "Cooties?" No, not the Milton Bradley children's game. I'm talking about the original "Billy's got cooties" playground taunt that children have used to humiliate and isolate each other for generations. One kid or group of children could get the rest of the kids to stop playing with Billy or Susie by creating the suggestion that doing so would cause some undesirable quality of that child to rub off on them. When you take the same concept online you get warnings like these.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
If somebody by the name email@example.com adds you...don't accept it.. it's a virus. Tell everybody on your bulletin because if somebody on your list adds them, you get the virus too. Tell everyone on your list not to open anything from angell11, tewwtuler and sassybitch. It is a hard drive killer and a very horrible virus. Pass this letter to everyone on your buddy list.
If somebody by the name firstname.lastname@example.org adds you in Yahoo messenger..don't accept it.. it's a virus. Tell everybody on ur bulletin because if somebody on ur list adds them, u get the virus too. Tell everyone on ur list not to open anything from angell11, tewwtuler and sassybitch. It is a hard drive killer and a very horrible virus. Pass this letter to everyone on ur buddy list. RIght click on the group name of your buddy list and click Send Messages to All
Tell everyone on your list not to open anything from angell11, tewwtuler, and sassybitch. It is a hard drive killer and a very horrible virus. If you do not pass this letter to everyone on your buddy list, we will delete your account. We need to find out who is really using these accounts. Sorry for the incoinconvienience. Sincerely, Director of Yahoo Services, tanwir2001. Right click on the group name of your buddy list and click Send Message to All in This Group. This is not a joke!!!!!!!!!!!!! im sry about this ppl i just dont wanna lose my acount or even have to pay that much..
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
The game's gone high-tech, but it's still a game. What we have above is the Information Age's equivalent of Cooties. After all, what better way to keep your friends from chatting with someone you don't like than convincing people that doing so will infect them - well, their computers, anyway - with a terrible virus? Let's call it techno-cooties. E-mail warnings like this one are juvenile attempts to virtually "blacklist" someone online. On the playground, most kids understand that "Cooties" is not a real disease - but in the online world, the threat of viruses is very real, so many who receive these message fail to see the joke.
The e-mail addresses and screen names cited in the warnings vary from telling to telling, but the concept is always the same: don't accept an invitation to chat with this person, or you'll be sorry. Problem is, viruses don't work this way. Viruses are small computer programs that execute pre-defined commands on your computer, often without your knowledge. But, like all programs, they must be executed to wreak their havoc. Accepting someone's request to add them to your buddy list simply copies their information from the IM server to your computer - it does not execute a program.
On the other hand, if someone you don't know tries to transfer a file to you, you would be well-advised not to accept it. Transferred files can, indeed, contain viruses which, if opened can infect your computer, but this is a very different action than simply allowing them to add you to their list or adding them to yours. Dismiss that idea as the childish prank it is.
On more note: Relying on forwarded e-mail or instant messages to protect you from viruses is foolhardy. The only real protection comes from installing a reliable anti-virus program and keeping it updated. Protect your PC and you can delete virus warnings like these without thinking twice. For advice on the best computer security arsenal, read Protecting Your PC, in the Chain-Breaker's Library. Break this chain.