Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Public Service Announcement

If you get an email warning about the Worst! Computer! Virus! Ever! the probability approaches 100% that the warning is a hoax. McAfee has comprehensive information about hoaxes as well as real viruses and other threats. So does Snopes, the web site that collects and assesses urban legends. The reason I'm telling you this is that I just got one of these warnings from somebody who should know better. The message began,

I checked and this is for real.
But the rest of it was classic Virus Hoax, fraught with dire threats and hyperbole:
Do not open any message with an attached filed called "Invitation" regardless of who sent it, It is a virus that opens an Olympic Torch which "burns" the whole hard disc C of your computer. This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address in his/her contact list, that is why you should send this e-mail to all your contacts. It is better to receive this message 25 times than to receive the virus and open it. If you receive a mail called "invitation", though sent by a friend, do not open it and shut down your computer immediately. This is the worst virus announced by CNN, it has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever. This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept SEND THIS E-MAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW
Since I have a nasty suspicious mind, I didn't just accept that Snopes had verified the virus warning. I looked it up in Snopes myself, and was unsurprised to learn that Snopes says it's a hoax. So does McAfee. It took me about 30 seconds to find this out. So please, if you get a virus warning, any warning, even one that doesn't threaten the total destruction of your hard drive and has no text in ALL CAPS, take 30 seconds to check it out. The hoax is the "virus"; don't spread it. It is, however, probably a good idea to be wary of emails with vague subject lines like "invitation". And if you get an email informing you that you have "a postcard from a friend" or "an e-card from a family member", or similar wording that doesn't include the name of the sender, that is a virus; don't open it.
Yeah, there are a lot of viruses being sent around the Internet. I definitely don't advise opening mail with the subject lines:

Cutting Taxes Increases Revenues
Clash of Civilizations
Living in End Times

Of course, these viruses destroy wetware while leaving hardware and software intact.
Or you could just buy a Mac.

I've had five Macs over sixteen years, thirteen of those years online, and I've NEVER had a virus problem.

In fact, I love to take virus attachments and open them with Canopener just so I can see that hilarious line about ".exe not found."
Does the Mac stop the Virus Hoax emails from reaching your mailbox, too?
My absolute all-time favorite virus e-mail:

You have just received the Amish virus.

Since we have no electricity or computers, you are on the honor system.

Please delete all of your files on your hard drive. Then forward this message to everyone in your address book.

We thank thee.
(I particularly like the sequencing of the instructions)
"Does the Mac stop the Virus Hoax emails from reaching your mailbox, too?"

Not exactly. I just had to park my "name" domain and email addresses because my spam peaked at 39,000 in one day about three weeks ago. I can't begin to guess how many of those spam were emails with viruses generated by my less that PC savvy clients over the years.

Despite never having passed on a virus in 13 yrs online, my domain was banned by some places because of all the fricking spam they got in "my" name thanks to clients letting their PCs get zombified.

OTOH, I just read about a new Word virus that degrades your computer's memory thanks to a huge hole in all the recent PC AND Mac versions of Office/Word.

Bill Gates has done a lot to make the Internet an unlivable place.
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