Corporate Executive Rick Gaines has confirmed this!

Renders all computers useless!

Attaches itself to hard drives and the BIOS!

Forward to anyone who might use the Internet immediately!

Warning! There is no known cure!!!

How many times have you received an email saying that a new "incurable" virus was out there and it would render your computer "useless" if you even thought about opening it? Ok... Maybe I'm exaggerating slightly, or am I? The fact is that almost every week, I receive at least one email along this line. Of course an executive from Microsoft or IBM has always checked into it to make it official. They always comment on just how serious this "new" virus is. The viruses are usually so serious, that it's "urgent" for you to forward the email to everyone you've ever met online...

The joke stops here...

The truth is that there's no virus that's going to permanently render your computer "useless." Sure there are viruses out there that can destroy most of the information on your hard drive, but your hard drive can always be reformatted and your files reinstalled. There are also a few viruses that can corrupt the BIOS, but still, the $10 chip can be replaced and your computer will be back up and running in no time. The thing to remember is that a virus is never going to permanently render a computer "useless" and there is ALWAYS a cure.

The next thing to remember is that the people who started this virus hoax want you to forward this email to everybody because it's funny to them to see how many people are going to fall for their little prank. What they're doing is insulting your intelligence. When they post an official's name from Microsoft or IBM, along with a phone number and address in the email, they know it's going to make the majority of the people believe that it's true. Think about it for a minute... How hard is it to make up a bogus name and address? Don't fall for it!

What's the big deal about it anyway, you may be wondering... Have you ever tried to log into your email account and had to wait forever before it let you? One reason may have been these hoaxes. Thousands of them are out there circulating everyday. Let's say you fell for one a couple of days ago. You forwarded it to the 20 people in your address book. Each of them turns around and forwards it to 20 more. 20*20=400. That's 400 people already. Now what if those 400 forward it, and then they forward it... See what I mean? With all those forwarded emails tying up the Internet, things are going to get pretty slow for a lot of people!

It's just like traffic in a city during rush hour. The more cars on the road, the slower things become. Have you ever had to wait an hour in traffic to get somewhere? The Internet is similar to a road. It is often called an "information highway." Emails and other files traveling on this "information highway" are just like cars. The more we cram on there, the slower it takes for them to get somewhere. This is why we often find ourselves sitting there waiting several minutes to open up a webpage.

So how do we stop it from happening? Inform the person who sent it to you about virus hoaxes. If you want to back up your information, send them the links that I'll include at the bottom of this page. The idea here is to not let anyone insult your intelligence. Let these pranksters know your just a little bit smarter than they are. Show them that you don't fall for these silly jokes and get all worried about something that can't possibly happen anyway.

So am I saying to never worry about viruses at all? NO! Definitely not! Computer viruses are quickly becoming a more serious problem everyday. I'm saying don't worry about emails you receive about virus hoaxes. How do you spot them? Well it's pretty easy really. If it says to forward it to everyone, it's most likely a hoax. If it says "Just released from Microsoft or IBM this morning!" it's a hoax. If it says it's going to render your computer useless, make it blow up, attach itself to the hard drive, embed itself in the processor, or anything like that, it's a hoax. (How silly... Attach itself... How in the world could anyone believe that??? What's it going to do next? Maybe mutate into a pokemon and run around inside the computer as well???) :D

If you start looking closely at these virus hoaxes, you'll soon start spotting the same old pattern. Many of you have probably already noticed what I'm talking about, but for those who haven't, it's stuff like "No known cure has been found to remedy the problem so far..." ROFL! I can't help but laugh. Where do these people come up with this stuff anyway? There's always a cure. Think about it for a minute. If a virus were capable of blowing your processor up, you'd just replace the processor. The computer would be good as new. But please don't worry, a virus can't blow up your processor anyway.

Well what should I worry about??? You need to worry about attachments. Don't open an attachment to an email unless you're 100% sure the person is ok. Even then, you should always save it and then scan it first, just in case your friend may not have realized he or she sent a virus. If your friend's computer becomes infected with a virus the virus itself may send an infected email to all the people in his or her address book.

Viruses are usually programs with the extension ".exe" or ".scr." If you run it, that's when it infects your computer. Pay close attention to the type of file you are opening. If it is supposed to be a picture it will be a ".jpg," ".bmp," or other normal image file. NEVER an ".exe," or ".scr." Of course there are other types of files that can contain a virus as well. Macros, which can be put in Word documents, can also contain viruses. Viruses may start from other things as well but as long as you don't open or run them you should be safe.

I've found viruses inside of files before. I've had the files right on my computer, but they never did anything because I didn't open or run them. I knew beforehand that they might be infected. If you have any doubt about an attachment, just go ahead and delete the file, everything should be just fine.

With newer viruses it is now possible to become infected by viewing HTML files like webpages with harmful scripts. Most email programs allow you to receive email as either HTML or plain text. While HTML emails are much prettier, plain text is safe. You cannot get a virus reading a plain text file. I recommend always using plain text when reading your emails. You can usually setup your email for this in your email options. You have a choice, pretty emails or safe emails. It's up to you.

I'll end this by also mentioning that besides virus hoaxes there are also many other hoaxes you should ignore. Anything that encourages you to forward an email is most likely a hoax. If it promises you'll make money by forwarding it, it's a hoax. The Cracker Barrel doesn't send out gift certificates to anyone who forwards an email. You aren't going to receive a check for $5 from anybody if you forward an email. No matter who promises that they did, it's simply not true. A poor kid with a fatal disease isn't going to get cured or receive any money if you forward an email. I've gotten some very heart breaking emails before from people promising that some kid would be saved if they managed to get 10,000 people to forward an email. This is a very sad and sick joke.

People will try or say anything to try to get you to fall for a hoax. If you just stop and think for a minute though, how in the world will 10,000 forwarded emails help anybody? It doesn't. All it does is make some wacko laugh when they see everyone falling for their ignorant hoax. Please stop and think the next time someone emails you a hoax. Don't fall for it and have them laughing at you. Be wise and let them know you're smarter than the average bear.

For more information about hoaxes see:

Norton/Symantec Virus Hoax List

Hoaxbusters U.S. Dept. Energy The Truth About Virus Myths and Hoaxes

McAfee Virus Information Library

Scamdex Email Scam, Fraud & Phishing Resource