Wednesday, November 16, 2005

How to identify a Hoax?

What is a Virus hoax?
Virus hoaxes are false reports about non-existent viruses, often claiming to do impossible things. Unfortunately some recipients occasionally believe a hoax to be a true virus warning and may take drastic action (such as shutting down their network).
Typically, hoaxes are emails, which describe a dangerous new undetectable virus, usually using bogus technical terms. Hoaxes often ask you to avoid reading or downloading emails that have a particular subject line.

How do hoaxes cost money?
Although no official research has been done on the subject, it is estimated that hoaxes can cost you even more than a genuine virus incident. After all, no anti-virus will detect hoaxes because they aren't viruses. Some companies panic when they receive a hoax virus warning and assume the worst - making the situation much worse.
The amount of email that a typical hoax can generate is also a cost to organizations. Once a few people in your company/institution have received a warning and mailed it to all their friends and colleagues, a mail overload can easily result and at the extreme, downing the bandwidth (Speed) and even the whole system.
Many virus hoaxes:
    * Falsely claim to describe an extremely dangerous virus
    * Use pseudo-technical language to make impressive-sounding (but impossible) claims
    * Falsely claim that the report was issued or confirmed by a well-known company
    * Ask you to forward it to all your friends and colleagues
As usual, you are urged not to pass on warnings of this kind, as the continued re-forwarding of these hoaxes simply wastes time and email bandwidth.
It is possible that you may receive a hoax via email with a file attached. Obviously, such file attachments should be treated with caution, as they may be virus infected. So better delete virus hoax emails, whether they contain file attachments or not.

It is usually easy to nail down a HOAX, if we go through the content carefully. Most of them will have some spelling mistakes/contradicting statements/incomplete info. etc.
More How to 's to identify a HOAX:
1.   Note whether the text you've received was actually written by the person who sent it. Did anyone sign their name to it? If not, be skeptical.
2.   Look for the telltale phrase, 'Forward this to everyone you know!' The more urgent the plea, the more suspect the message.
3.   Look for statements like 'This is NOT a hoax' or 'This is NOT an urban legend.' They typically mean the opposite of what they say.
4.   Watch for overly emphatic language, as well as frequent use of UPPERCASE LETTERS and multiple exclamation points!!!!!!!
5.   If the text seems aimed more at persuading than informing the reader, be suspicious. Like propagandists, hoaxers are more interested in pushing people's emotional buttons than communicating accurate information.
6.   If the message purports to impart extremely important information that you've never heard of before or read elsewhere in legitimate venues, be very suspicious.
7.   Read carefully and think critically about what the message says, looking for logical inconsistencies, violations of common sense and blatantly false claims.
8.   Look for subtle or not-so-subtle jokes - indications that the author is pulling your leg.
9.   Check for references to outside sources of information. Hoaxes don't typically cite verifiable evidence, nor link to Websites with corroborating information.
10.   Check to see if the message has been debunked by Websites that debunk urban legends and Internet hoaxes (see below).
11.   Research any factual claims in the text to see if there is published evidence to support them. If you find none, odds are you've been the recipient of an email hoax.

1) Virtually any email chain letter you receive (i.e., any message forwarded multiple times before it got to you) is more likely to be false than true. You should automatically be skeptical of chain letters.
2) Hoaxers usually try every means available to make their lies believable - e.g., mimicking a journalistic style, attributing the text to a 'legitimate' source, or implying that powerful corporate or government interests have tried to keep the information from you.
3) Be especially wary of health-related rumors. Most importantly, never act on 'medical information' forwarded from unknown sources without first verifying its accuracy with a doctor or other reliable source.

  You can also use other resources available online like:
My advises to any recipient of an email hoax is:  "JUST IGNORE IT & NOT FORWARD it to anyone else."


  1. Anonymous4:00 AM

    Very useful stuff. Really helpful to fix 'em!...


    This information should be FORWARDED to ALL. It should go through chain without breaking it.

  3. Couldn't agree more with MANOJ BANSAL