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Weekly Computer Tip # 23
20 July 2003

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How to know whether or not a virus warning is a hoax

E-mail messages, warning you about computer viruses, are extremely common. There are a lot of viruses out there, however the great majority of these warnings are hoaxes, which do not infect systems yet cause unnecessary worry.

Did you know ...

you can easily check whether a virus warning is a hoax.

Here's how:

  1. Real virus warnings almost always come from a reliable source such as Symantec or McAfee, and identify this in the message, with a URL for a web page to visit for further information.
  2. Virus hoaxes almost always contain a request to "send this to everyone in your address book" or some variant of that statement. No real warning message from a credible source will tell you to do so.
  3. Check the list of known virus hoaxes on, say, http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html or http://vil.mcafee.com/hoax.asp or type the virus name in your favourite search engine (for instance, type "jdbgmgr virus" in Google)

Feel free to forward this tip to anyone you think might find it useful. But
not to "everyone in your address book" ;-)

Until next week.

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PS I’m committed to sharing the best of what I know with others so please don’t keep me a secret. If you enjoyed today’s tip, please forward it to anyone you feel may benefit. Alternatively, feel free to reprint it (with full copyright and subscription information) in your newsletters and message boards.

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July 2003