Please forward this among all your contacts!

from the August 2006 Actrix Newsletter
by Rob Zorn

I've received a couple of these forwarded e-mails from well-meaning customers of late, so it looks like the old virtual virus e-mails are doing the rounds again. I'd hoped we'd seen the last of them. They typically look like the following, and there are lots and lots of variations:

Be alert during the next few days: Don't open any message with an attached file called "Invitation", regardless of who sent it. It's a virus that opens an Olympic Torch that "burns" the whole hard disk of your computer. This virus will come from someone who has your e-mail address; that's why you should send this e-mail to all your contacts. It's better to receive this message 25 times than to receive the virus.

DON'T open it and shut down your computer immediately This is the worst virus announced by CNN, it's been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever. The virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there's no repair yet for this particular virus. It simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disk, where vital information is kept.

Also:- Emails with pictures of Osama Bin-Laden hanged are being sent and the moment you open these emails your computer will crash and you will not be able to fix it! This e-mail is being distributed through countries around the globe, but mainly in the US and Israel. Don't be inconsiderate; send this warning to whomever you know. If you get an email along the lines of "Osama Bin Laden Captured" or "Osama Hanged" don't open the attachment.

SEND THIS E-MAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW.

But the whole thing is a load of nonsense, a hoax designed to cause panic, and to mimic virus behaviour even when there isn't such a virus. Usually some big names are mentioned as having announced or discovered the virus (such as Microsoft, CNN or AOL), and it's always the most destructive virus ever, with no known cure. It will always eat your entire hard drive (or burn it with an Olympic torch, whatever that means) and you won't be able to fix it.

By encouraging you to send the bogus warning on to everyone you know, or to your entire address book, the e-mail is trying to act like a virtual virus. Viruses like to replicate by sending themselves on to other addresses found on your computer without you knowing. This e-mail is trying to make a sucker out of you by getting you to do this knowingly.

So, if you do receive these panicky types of virus warnings, you can safely ignore them. The last thing you want to do is pass them on. If you're still tempted to because you think it's better to be safe than sorry, at least check first. If CNN, Microsoft, or AOL really have made an announcement about the most destructive virus ever, it will be on their web site. The Virus Myths web site at www.vmyths.com currently has some problems, or I would send you there, but a quick Google search will often reveal the truth about virus hoaxes as will sites like this one: http://vil.nai.com/vil/default.aspx.