(02/15/2002) The new year always brings with it new virus hoaxes and rebirths of old ones that want to feed off of the naivete of new computer users. This one is a creative example that combines elements of real viruses and hoaxes alike.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
"VIRUS WITH NO CURE"
PLEASE, SEND THIS INFORMATION TO EVERY PERSON IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK.
IF YOU RECEIVE AN E-MAIL THAT READS "UPGRADE INTERNET2" DO NOT OPEN IT, AS IT CONTAINS AN EXECUTABLE NAMED "PERRIN.EXE." IT WILL ERASE ALL THE DATA IN YOUR HARD DRIVE AND IT WILL STAY IN MEMORY. EVERY TIME THAT YOU UPLOAD ANY DATA, IT WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ERASED AND YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO USE YOUR COMPUTER AGAIN.
THIS INFORMATION WAS PUBLISHED YESTERDAY IN THE CNN WEB SITE. THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS VIRUS. TO THIS DATE, THERE IS NO KNOWN ANTI-VIRUS PROGRAM FOR THIS PARTICULAR VIRUS.
PLEASE, FORWARD THIS INFORMATION TO YOUR FRIENDS, SO THAT THEY WILL BE ON THE ALERT. ALSO CHECK THE LIST BELOW, SENT BY IBM, WITH THE NAMES OF SOME E-MAILS THAT, IF RECEIVED, SHOULD NOT BE OPENED AND MUST BE DELETED IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE THEY CONTAIN ATTACHED VIRUSES. THIS WAY, YOUR COMPUTER WILL BE SAFE.
THE TITLES ARE:
13) The Phantom Menace
15) UP-GRADE INTERNET2
17) I love You
18) CELCOM Screen Saver or CELSAVER.EXE
19) Win a Holiday (e-mail)
20) JOIN THE CREW O PENPALS
ONCE AGAIN, DO NOT OPEN THESE E-MAILS, AND PASS THIS INFORMATION ON TO YOUR FRIENDS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
This one has many of the tell-tale signs of a hoax:
It says the information was released "yesterday," but doesn't say when "today" is. As it turns out, this one has been in circulation the fall of 2000!
Neither IBM's nor CNN's web sites have any information about this supposedly serious threat. Besides, IBM is not an anti-virus authority and would not be issuing such a warning, anyway.
If CNN did report it and it really is as bad as it is claimed, then the rest of the media would have reported it ad nauseum.
Interestingly enough, like the Phantom Menace hoax, this one started out in Spanish (or Portuguese by some accounts). It was translated into English and the list of "attachments to look for" was added. Ironically, the list contains file names used both in real viruses (e.g. I Love You and prettypark.exe) and popular hoaxes
(e.g. Cellcom Screen Saver, and Win A Holiday).
Though viruses do exist and pose a threat to anyone connected to the Internet, hoaxes prey upon the unitiated and use lies and techno-babble to embarrass those who rely on e-mail chain letters. Relying on anonymously authored and randomly distributed e-mails to protect yourself from viruses is kind of like hanging out in a hospital waiting room to learn medicine - Sure you may pick up one or two things that are helpful, but the information you get is sketchy and unreliable.
The only reliable way to protect yourself from virus infection is to install anti-virus software on your computer and keep it updated regularly (at least once a week). There are many inexpensive yet effective products available, and it is well worth the investment for the peace of mind. Check out our list of popular anti-virus software providers here. If you will not or can not install anti-virus software, you can get a free on-line scan from Trend Micro's House Call.
Another good rule to follow is to never open any file attachment, regardless of the sender, unless you were expecting it. Ask your friends to precede any message with an attachment with a message announcing the attachment and telling what it is. Do the same for them. If you weren't expecting something, don't open it. Do these things, and you'll be able to confidently delete virus warnings you get and Break the Chain!