Virus Hoaxes

When someone receives an email message, possibly forwarded by someone they know, describing the horrible new computer "virus" that's just been released on the world, it's a fairly natural reaction to want to immediately forward the message to everyone you know. Resist the urge. Please!!!



Many, if not most, of the "virus" alerts you'll hear about via email are simply hoaxes. Perpetuating the hoax by passing it on to others without verifying the information helps the prankster create disruption and panic, and can cause others to either pass on the hoax or spend time tracking down the truth.



Virus hoaxes cost millions of dollars annually in time spent by countless people diverted from productive work, resources devoted to virus detection and defense, and bandwidth utilized flooding the Internet with useless and harmful email. At least, before you take any action regarding a reported "virus alert", check with someone you trust, or check it out yourself, to make sure it's just not one of many Internet hoaxes.



Many hoaxes have made the rounds for months, even years, before an average e-mail user may hear about them. The "Goodtimes virus", by example, is a well-known hoax. In fact, it is probably the most well-known hoax in the computer world. The Goodtimes virus does not exist, and has never existed. It was a hoax when it was first published in December 1994 and remains a hoax today.

If you want to read about the "Goodtimes" hoax, go to the CIAC site notice at :



CIAC NOTES 94-04c

CIAC NOTES 95-09



The "Goodtimes" hoax claimed impressive credentials, stating at the front of each hoax letter that that the "FCC" had issued a warning... Only one problem: the FCC doesn't issue virus warnings.



See: FCC Public Notice 5036 view the FCC disclaimer



There a number of good documents on the web, some of them very lengthily, discussing the origin and spread of the Goodtimes hoax, if you are interested. Other virus/Trojan hoaxes include: PKZ300, Irina, Good Times Spoof, Deeyenda, Ghost, PENPAL GREETINGS!, Make Money Fast, NaughtyRobot, AOL4FREE, Join the Crew, Death Ray, AOL V4.0 Cookie.

You can find a excellent article on Internet Hoaxes and a description of all those listed here at:



CIAC Internet Hoaxes



Most virus "alerts" are posted to LARGE groups of people. Many people simply blindly repo0st any "alert" they see to everyone they know. Resist the urge.



If you want to forward virus alerts, you should at least check with your network administrator or ISP or other informed source to see if you can verify that the reported "alert" is real. Using sources like Rob Rosenberger at the Computer Virus Myths homepage and U.S. DOE;s CIAC to validate possible virus alerts before passing them on to anyone.



If you receive a virus alert from anyone, one thing to check for is if it provides any reliable web links to sites you can trust to validate the information given in the warning letter. If there are no links shown, or you follow a link mentioned and it is non-existent, be very suspicious.

The Bedford County Sheriff's Department has decreased the chances of viruses from the main sources in a place of business. The Internet and outside removable media. There are only a select group of computers that have these features available, and those are kept locked in their respective offices when the persons are not present. Every now and then we may have to investigate a possible virus infection of our systems, but these matters are handled by a select group of individuals and at no time is a threat of a virus spread through the department without legitimate cause and verification. We find that having personnel who are trained in the computer field and recognize such instances is much more effective than everyone taking their own course of action against a virus threat. This way there is only select ones who are responsible and those individuals can maintain a record easier for themselves than trying to track down what everyone else has or has not done.



It is suggested that you never trust any virus warning that cannot be verified, through at least on URL in the warning, at a legitimate (a URL that you can verify independently) virus-expert site, such as the CIAC homepage, Computer Virus Myths homepage, or a major Anti-Virus software manufacturer's homepage, such as:



Symantec Antivirus Research Center

DataFellows Virus information Center

Stiller Research Virus Information

Virus Bulletin Home Page

Joe Well's Wild List - Viruses in the wild

NIST Virus Information Page

McAfee Virus Pages



You do not have to be a virus expert - you just need to know where to find them.



The CIAC home page is: http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/

The information on this page, in whole or in part, was developed by the University of Oklahoma Police Department (OUPD). They have generously allowed our department to use this information.