Living with the internet: Keeping it safe
Living with the internet: Keeping it safe

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Living with the internet: Keeping it safe

6 Hoaxes

6.1 Identifying hoaxes

The hoax message relies on the naivety of users in order to mislead them.

  • Do learn more about hoaxes: follow the links below and examine the messages you find. See how convincing they look.

The Good Times Virus hoax


Both of these messages come from the Electronic Ephemera website, which allows you to search for hoaxes by name or keyword.

Users who fall for these hoaxes can cause problems, not only to themselves but also to friends, family and work colleagues if they forward the hoaxes to them. Hoaxes can generate spam mail, cause files to be deleted unnecessarily (and potentially harmfully), and generally cause panic.

Most antivirus vendors have information on hoaxes on their websites, so you can always check if you suspect a hoax and verify the message before you act upon it.

It is important to remember that most companies would not send unsolicited email asking you to remove files or delete a piece of software. If you wish to have update information from Microsoft or your antivirus company, you need to sign up for it. Reputable companies will never send unsolicited messages claiming things like 'New virus', or 'No antivirus can detect this'.

If an organisation finds a suspected new virus, it will send a sample to the antivirus vendors to make sure they can detect it. Then the antivirus vendors will issue an update to their antivirus software. They would never send out messages to the public that might frighten them.


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