written by Chris Griesemer

We are constantly seeing information about new viruses being distributed all over the internet. I could write a book on all the viruses out there and how to avoid them. However, I would rather talk about email hoaxes and the issues associated with them.

In the past month I counted 13 email hoaxes that I received personally. For some of you that may be low. The bad part is that most of them are from my father. “Chris, tell your wife to be careful….some guy is going around stealing kidneys.” “Chris, I think you spent too much money on your laser eye surgery. There is a web site that lets you buy a laser eye device that you can use at your home.” Poor dad.

So what problems do these hoaxes cause? First of all, the hoax could cause the weak (my dad) to harm their computer. Multiple hoaxes have warned people of viruses that are located on their computer. The hoax instructs the reader to search for a file, if they find it, delete it because it is a virus. One in particular instructed readers to delete a file that was the Microsoft debugger for Java. I remember hearing about that one and calling my dad immediately. He would have had his whole hard drive deleted.

Most of the time the information is exaggerated or just plain false. It is done that way so that you read it and say, “Are You Kidding Me?” Being so startled by the information, you send it to eight of your friends, they send it to their friends and so on. Those are usually of the political nature. Not only do they spread damaging information, they also create email traffic that clogs up bandwidth.

Finally, it damages the reputation of the person that sent it. Lets face it, if I receive any email from my dad I immediately think he has been tricked….again. On top of that, it clogs my inbox up.

The main thing to do is check these emails before you pass them on to someone else. The main ones are snopes.com and truthorfiction.com. Please contact me if you have any questions about Email Hoaxing.

By Chris Griesemer, IT Security Specialist