Beware of Virus Hoaxes

A ”Postcard from Hallmark’ virus alert is doing the rounds.  Don’t worry, it is a hoax.

A friend forwarded me an email today alerting me to a new ‘Postcard from Hallmark’ virus, which it said had been discovered by McAfee ‘yesterday’, and was classified by  Microsoft as  ‘the most destructive virus ever’.   The message warned me that this virus would destroy my hard drive without warning, and implored me to forward the email to all my contacts.

Ever inquisitive, and eager to protect myself against this impending menace, I quickly googled ‘Postcard from Hallmark virus’. Imagine my surprise when I learned within seconds that this isn’t a virus at all, but a hoax that has been doing the rounds online since 2008!

Alarmingly, Google also lists a host of “internet security” products that I can buy in order to ward off the fictitious ‘Hallmark’ virus.  I have no way of knowing whether these are genuine products. But if the ‘virus’ doesn’t exist in the first instance, why the need to buy something to protect against it?

The next time I get an email warning me of an imminent virus disaster, I will check out it first on google and elsewhere before forwarding the alert to my contacts and friends, or spending money on fixes.  It might be a good idea for you to do likewise.  In the meantime, be careful out there…

2 Responses to Beware of Virus Hoaxes

  1. A similar twist that I saw a while ago was an e-mail warning me of a malicious worm doing the rounds and instructions how to locate and remove it.

    The e-mail contained instructions how to search for a file on your hard drive with an obscure name such as “BHGFg542ED.APT”. If you found it, this was allegedly the worm and the e-mail gave you details of how to delete it.

    Problem is that the file the e-mail referred to was not a worm at all but a genuine file from the Windows operating system. If you deleted it, you caused some minor damage to your own PC.

    So there was no worm – just instructions as to how an unsuspecting user might cause harm to their own PC! (I have to admit – some of these ideas are actually quite clever and one wonders what good these people could do if they were working for good.)

  2. I think the lesson here is to research all virus threats on reputable websites before doing anything that might cause harm.

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