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How to spot an e-mail hoax message...

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on December 20, 1999

Question

I got a warning that the "ElfBowling Game" that was e-mailed to one of our staff has a delayed virus

attached to it that will activate Christmas Day and supposedly ruin our systems. Is this true and how do I protect myself?

-Cecille

Answer

This question was answered on December 20, 1999. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.


The Elf Bowling program is a cute little game that most everyone I know by now has gotten as an attachment from a friend Because of its immense popularity, someone has decided to scare people into thinking that they are going to get hit on Christmas Day if they have this program on their computer This is just another of you garden variety HOAXES that are prevalent on the Internet today For some reason, most people think that if someone took the time to compose an e-mail message about just about anything that it must be true We don’t take rumors at face value in any other form of information that we receive so the Internet should not be treated any different Most new computer users feel that everyone else knows more about computers and the Internet then they do so, that fall for these hoaxes without even giving it a second thought Microsoft and Disney are not paying large sums of money for you to surf the Internet or send a chain e-mail message along The U.S Postal server is not about to start taxing e-mail messages These are just a couple of the more prevalent hoaxes that are currently circulating Don’t believe everything that you read in your e-mail In fact, don’t believe 80% of what you read in e-mail messages, especially if they are the type that have “Send this to everyone that you know!” anywhere in the message This is generally the first sign of a hoax message When it comes to viruses, check with trusted sources such as Mcafee (www.mcafee.com) or Norton Anti-virus (www.norton.com) whenever you get a “warning” about a potentially new virus The general media is usually all over a story about a potentially hazardous virus and you will hear about it from more than one source If you want to be lazy, you can simply register for my free warnings and alerts (www.support4free.com) and I will let you know about real threats as well as any new hoaxes only after we have verified them (I sent out the ElfBowling hoax warning last week)

Here is a copy of the hoax message:

Subject: FW: VIRUS ALERT!!!!

I have just received this - better safe than sorry.....

TO ALL

IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED ANY OF THESE GAMES=

FROGAPULT.EXE ELFBOWL.EXE

(FROG GAME) & (ELF BOWLING GAME)

PLEASE CAN YOU DELETE THEM COMPLETELY OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM AS THEY BOTH HAVE A DELAYED VIRUS ATTACHED TO THEM THAT WILL BE ACTIVATED ON CHRISTMAS DAY AND WILL WIPE OUT YOUR SYSTEM LET EVERYONE KNOW OF THIS

THANKS

If you get this message DO NOT pass it on to others Millions of copies of this hoax are circling the globe, clogging up mail servers and slowing the Internet down Please do your part in killing these urban legends by stopping the cycle at your computer In fact, send a message back to the sender letting them know that it is a hoax.

If you have not had the pleasure of “ElfBowling” you can download it at www.nstorm.com.

And, by the way, send this column to everyone you know!

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on December 20, 1999

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