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Technical Tips - Hoaxes

Investigating Internet Hoaxes,
Tips on finding out the truth.

General Info

Computer hoaxes are becoming more and more common these days. Most often these hoaxes are spread through an e-mail message that is mass mailed and encourages the recipients to "tell all their friends", or "e-mail this message to everyone you know". Often they make false claims that large companys such as IBM, Microsoft or Disney are in some way connected with the message to confirm its validity. Their subject matter frequently involves false virus alerts, prize money, free trips and even free beer!

Some recent hoaxes that are circulating the internet via e-mail messages include: PKZ300, Irina, Good Times, Good Times Spoof, Deeyenda, Ghost PENPAL GREETINGS!, Make Money Fast, NaughtyRobot, AOL4FREE, Join the Crew, Death Ray, AOL V4.0 Cookie, A.I.D.S. Hoax, Internet Cleanup Day, Bill Gates Hoax, WIN A HOLIDAY, AOL Riot June 1, 1998, E-mail or get a Virus, Bud Frogs Screen Saver, Disney Giveaway Hoax, Blue Mountain Cards, Internet Access Charge, Geeks Bearing Gifts , Takes Guts to Say Jesus Hoax, Miller's Free Beer

For more information on these and other hoaxes visit the sites listed below.

Help Stomp Out the Hoax

If you receive an e-mail message that sounds suspicious do some investigating before propagating the message. Often within a few minutes you can determine if the information is true or false. If the message mentions a large company, visit the company's website and search for keywords that relate to the message. If the message is true the company would most certainly have information about it on their website. They may even have information stating that the message is a hoax as is the case with the recent Microsoft/Disney Email Tracking Hoax. Microsoft, after learning of the hoax, addressed the issue on their website with a message stating the information was false.

Online Resources

Fortunately, there are websites dedicated to educating people about these hoaxes. The next time you receive a suspicious sounding message check out the sites below before passing the message on to your friends.

Websites that discuss Internet hoaxes :

Computer Internet Advisory Capability
http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIACHoaxes.html

Hype Alerts
http://www.av.ibm.com/BreakingNews/HypeAlert/

Hoax Warning Page
http://www.europe.datafellows.com/news/hoax.htm

Symantec Antivirus Research Center - Virus Hoax Page
http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html

Computer Virus Myths
http://kumite.com/myths/

Here's a web site that talks about spam and suggests ways to deal with it. I don't necessarily endorse the suggestions, but the pages are interesting:

Death to Spam
http://www.mindworkshop.com/alchemy/nospam.html

For additional information on spam and chain-letters, read Bill Gates' New York Times syndicated column entitled: On Spam: Wasting Time On the Internet 3/25/98
http://www.microsoft.com/billgates/columns/1998Essay/3-25col.htm

* For more Tech Tips see the Tech Tip Archives!

   

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This site last updated on April 15, 2002.