It is real?
Suppose that you (and a long list of others on the CC list)
have just received a message with shocking information along with a notice that
you should forward this to all your friends immediately to amuse them, amaze them,
shock them, make them rich, or save them from some horrible fate -- heart attack,
financial ruin, computer virus, legislation proposed by evil politicians.
Before you press the forwarding button to pass this message on
to all your friends please take the time to see if the note is a
hoax, a smear, an urban legend, a Trojan horse carrying a virus, or just another
attempt to create an avalanche of worthless Email.
Let's face it, there are some bad and/or sick people out there
who stay up late nights fabricating almost-believable lies to spread on the Internet.
If it's an unlikely story, check it against the
list of urban legends.
If it is a virus warning, check it against the one of the following:
the U.S. government's up-to-date list of virus warning hoaxes
If it doesn't seem to follow your common sense and understanding
of fair play, question its motives and consider its source. Some people
consider it amusing to create and spread false stories about a political figure
they dislike so as to make them seem foolish or evil. Do not aid and
abet the spreading of such slander by passing it on to others.
It may be harder for you to check the facts than to spread false
witness with a wink and a nod, but you will more respected by yourself and others
for doing so. Consider how you would like this to be done unto you and
check the story before passing it on.
Some Simple Definitions
from USAToday [http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/zd/zd3.htm]
Virus - "A virus commonly inserts itself into other program
files, in the same manner that a virus in nature takes over the apparatus of normal
cells. When the infected program runs, the virus code gets a chance to
inspect its environment and look for and infect new carriers in the form of other
program files. The CIH virus (a k a Chernobyl) is an attacker of this
kind. If a user transmits an infected file to another user, or if infected
storage media move from one machine to another, the virus may spread rapidly.
Worm - "A worm, as defined by some authorities, is a self-replicating
program that does not alter files but resides in active memory and duplicates itself
by means of computer networks. Worms use facilities of an operating system
that are meant to be automatic and invisible to the user. It is common
for worms to be noticed only when their uncontrolled replication consumes system
resources, slowing or halting other tasks.
Trojan Horse - "The most elementary form of malicious code
is the Trojan horse. This kind of program appears to do something useful,
or at least entertaining, such as putting up an attractive screen saver.
Like its legendary namesake, however, a Trojan horse program conceals a destructive
purpose: While running, such a program may destroy files or create a
'back door' entry point that enables an intruder to access your system.
A Trojan horse program does not propagate itself from one computer to another.
You most likely will never get a virus from reading your e-mail
or participating in an on-line conversation. Most dangerous viruses are
spread by infected e-mail attachments that you may accidentally download.
Itís the file ATTACHED to an e-mail message that may be infected with a virus.
But itís not unleashed until you DOWNLOAD it, so set your Email system's options so
that it does NOT download attachments and does NOT unzip compressed file attachments
on download. When you are notified that a piece of Email has an attachment,
consider the source of the message and the content (since some viruses may use your
friend's Email list to send you a fake message with an attached virus) before you
decide to download and open or unzip the attachment. The exception to this
are various version of worms (i.e. Beagle, etc.) which can infect your system - if your
system meets their needs. For more information please check the various
security software sites for details.
Attached files may also contain Trojan Horse programs that may
compromise the security of your Email account, contain objectionable graphics, or
damage computer files. No matter how enticing the file or program may
appear, you put yourself and your computer at risk when you download a file from
an unknown source, even if it appears to be some sort of official communication.