Break the Chain The Phantom Virus Menace

Exclusive (6/28/2000) Hoaxters know that long-lasting e-mail hoaxes are those that appeal to the basest human fears and concerns. These fears transcend international boundaries, as is evident from the following virus warning. Though it originally started circulating in Spanish, it definitely follows the now widely common virus warning pattern. Thanks to fellow chain-breaker Coolgal for pointing this one out and helping with the translation.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Existe la posibilidad de que recibas un mail con el Subject: The Phantom Menace, que es el nombre de la pelicula de el Episodio I. Por favor NO ABRAS ese mail, ya que es uno de los virus mas poderosos conocidos hasta hoy. Apenas tiene 3 dias rondando en la red, pero segun Microsoft este virus generara perdidas de hasta 100 mil millones de dolares antes de que exista una vacuna. Es un virus gusano, que se mete en los hoyos de los programas de Microsoft a traves de la red. Manda esta informacion a todos tus conocidos por favor.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

English translation:

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

You could receive an email with the Subject: The Phantom Menace, which is the name of the movie Episode I. Please DO NOT OPEN this email, it is one of the most powerful viruses ever known. It has only been on the web for 3 days, but according to Micrsoft, this virus will cause losses around 100 billion dollars before a cure can be found. This is a Worm that will insert itself into the holes of the Microsoft programs through the Web. Please send this information to everyone you know.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

The warning claims that this is one of the "most powerful viruses ever known." If that were the case, from recent media exposure of Melissa and the "love bug" (among others), don't you think the press would have been all over this one by now?

Second, it says that Microsoft estimates losses to this virus to be around 100 billion dollars. First of all, Microsoft is not in the Antivirus business and would not be considered by anyone in the know as an authority on the subject. Secondly, have you ever known Microsoft to publicly point out the shortcomings and consequences of its own products? Nah, didn't think so.

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The only redeeming quality of this message is its accurate, if a bit simplistic, definition of a "worm." Worms do indeed insert themselves through security "holes" in the programs on your computer. Microsoft products do tend to have a higher degree of these security pitfalls, and true hackers have identified MS as an easy target. So, this line could have the effect of making the letter seem more believable.

No matter what language it is written in, virus hoaxes always sound urgent and give you straightforward instructions about what to do (e.g. "DO NOT OPEN IT," "Send this to everyone you know"). You have to decide where you want to get the information on which you base your opinions and decisions. It just doesn't seem logical that anonymous e-mail is the best source.

What Do You Think?

Category: Virus Warning
References: Symantec's Antivirus Research Center

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