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Viruses, Hoaxes and more - a personal request

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Some of us are receiving chain letters and such from well intending 
individuals on the list that believe there is validity in passing the 
information along. Recently, I received a chain letter that asked me to 
distribute the letter to all the people I know. For every three people 
tracked I would receive something like $5.00 from Microsoft or some such 
company. 

I deleted the post immediately and only thought that I would write to the 
list as I read a response from Ron Fong who identified it as a Hoax. Ron is 
correct - but even more important, it is a benign form of a virus intended to 
attack and slowdown the Internet network by flooding it with posts that grow 
at an exponential rates.

These types of viruses leave no damage on your machines, but are a nusance 
and an annoyance. I receive most warnings from well intended individuals (my 
mother and brother have already notified me about two possible doomsday 
viruses) who don't have the experience to know that a Hoax exists or that 
they, the well intended are being used to perpetuate the deed.  

The majority of these hoaxes serve a limited number of purposes - to clog the 
flow of information and slow down the network or to try and separate and 
individual from his or her money (pyramid schemes).

Ron provided a number of good sources in his post for those interested to 
obtain more information on Virus Hoaxes, These include:

<A 
HREF="http://www.europe.datafellows.com/hoaxes/msemtrk.htm";>http://www.europe.
datafellows.com/hoaxes/msemtrk.htm</A> 

<A 
HREF="http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/800-msoft-hoax.html";>http://w
ww.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/800-msoft-hoax.html</A>

The second of which deals with this particular hoax.

I urge all of you to take a few moments when you receive potentially 
unnerving information about computer devastations, worms and viruses or about 
a company's noble desire to seek information and pay everyone in the world a 
nominal fee for their help. Consider who gains the most from the post and 
rationalize the possibilities of warnings warnings. Only in rare cases does a 
virus that can cause harm on a large scale get through the system. In most 
cases, the media is publicizing them as soon as they are discovered and 
warnings appear on national news and in local papers.  

There are very few instances where you can be tricked into accepting a virus 
into your machine. Some of us who are very active online may be more 
suseptable. The viruses that my machines have contracted were the result of 
file downloads from unreliable sources. With this said, I have had only once 
in almost twenty years  received a virus that I did not immediatly erase 
before it was allowed to do damage. In most cases I eluded the virus before 
my Virus protection software could identify it by simply using common sense. 

I do own virus protection software and I do use programs that check my 
downloads. However, the greatest protection comes from simply not opening up 
a file from an unknown source without first scanning the files with virus 
protection software. If you don't have virus protect, delete any suspect file 
immediately. If you were wrong and you deleted an important file, you can 
retrieve it from your Recycle Bin or simply ask the sender to resubmit it - 
warning the individual not to send unsolicited files. 

Please remember that some viruses are intended only to harm the Internet 
Network by clogging or slowing it down. This is annoying to those of us who 
rely upon the Internet to transfer work documents and other information. I 
urge you all to take a few breaths and rationalize chain letters as you 
receive them. The Internet has been around long enough and there are few, if 
any, original scams left to play. Most strike the neophytes and get played 
over and over again - perpetrated by the well intended.

Respectfully,
Dennis S. Wish PE