Panic breaks out in many a living room when one of the family members receives an email about a ‘very dangerous virus’. Countless fake virus alerts are circulating on the internet that look very ominous. They are warnings of gruesome but non-existent viruses that wipe the entire hard disk and spread all kinds of private data of computer users on the Internet.
Such emails fall under the category of ‘hoax’ or ‘fake alerts’. A hoax notification is thus distributed by a ‘person’ via email to as many addresses as possible. The content may vary depending on which notification is involved. But it is always stressed to forward as many emails as possible anyway. This type of notification can always be recognised as follows:
1. The CC option was used to send the email
2. The content is alarming and contains a lot of nonsense
3. It is expressly requested that you forward the email to all your acquaintances
4. The advice to remove a particular file from your system
So if you receive such an email, NEVER forward it. Also NEVER follow the advice given in the email!
How can you recognise a hoax?
A hoax almost always contains the text ‘forward this message to as many people as possible’.
A hoax can also be an alert for a fake virus. This warning almost always contains the notification to forward the message to everyone, thereby achieving the desired effect of overlaying mail server.
What can you do against a hoax?
The solution against spreading is simple. Never forward messages that say ‘forward this message to as many people as possible’. Never forward messages containing a virus notification without first checking whether it is really a virus to avoid unnecessary e-mail traffic.