1. News & Issues
Send to a Friend via Email

Computer Virus Hoaxes

As a general rule, acting on forwarded email warnings is not one of the best ways to protect yourself from viruses — and not just because the majority of such warnings are hoaxes. In a sense, all virus warnings are misleading because they lend the false impression that as long we watch out for specific file attachments, we'll be safe. Not so!

F1 Key Virus Warning
NOT A HOAX: Forwarded emails warn of a new security vulnerability in Windows 2000, XP, and Server 2003 systems consisting of a pop-up window directing users to press the F1 key, which sends them to a website that downloads malware.

A.I.D.S. Virus
Not even remotely a real computer virus. About.com's antivirus expert Mary Landesman explains.

This one is complicated. The name refers to a bogus virus alert, but also to a known Trojan horse program. Details from Mary Landesman.

Be My Valentine
It's a hoax. Sophos.com calls it "a waste of time and bandwidth."

'Black in the White House' Virus
Forwarded email warns of "the most destructive ever" computer virus circulating as an attachment to messages entitled "Black in the White House."

An AOL hoax, supposedly a downloadable file containing a virus that will erase your hard drive and/or steal screen names and passwords. Info from Symantec.

Budweiser Frogs Screen Saver
Originally offered in 1996 as a download from Budweiser.com, the Bud Frogs Screen Saver was an instant hit; too big a hit for some people's tastes, evidently, because in 1997 pranksters launched an urgent alert claiming the program contains a virus.

California IBM / Wobbler Virus
Messages warning of a dangerous file attachment called "California IBM" or "Wobbler" are hoaxes, according to About's Antivirus Guide.

Celcom Screen Saver  (CELLSAVER.EXE)
It's a 1998 hoax updated for a new audience. Check here for the facts.

'Elf Bowling' Virus (ELFBOWL.EXE)
Antivirus experts say there are several variants of this hoax, all of which attempt to discredit the safety of popular games.

Rob Rosenberger tells the story of how a harmless Halloween animation came to be known as a "dangerous" Trojan horse program.

Good Times
Solid info from the venerable 'Good Times Virus Hoax FAQ.'

'Happy New Year' Virus
A hoax, says Symantec's virus lab.

HTML Virus
From ZDNN: computer virus researcher Russ Cooper says the threat posed by the possibility of "hostile code" in Web pages is more theoretical than real.

Internet Flower for You
Debunked by About's Antivirus Guide Mary Landesman.

'Invitation' Virus
Hoax virus alert circulating just prior to the opening of of the 2006 Winter Olympics warns of a computer virus that "opens an Olympic torch which 'burns' the hard disc." (Variant of "A Virtual Card for You" hoax.)

From IBM: how an interactive novel on the Web came to be mistakenly known as a computer virus.

It Takes Guts to Say Jesus
That's the title of a supposed new virus-bearing email according to a forwarded email alert. No way, say antivirus labs. The warning is a hoax.

(Also known as the "teddy bear virus.") Following on the coat tails of the SULFNBK.EXE hoax, this warning again urges users to delete a perfectly legitimate file.

Life Is Beautiful
Email warnings about a supposed virus-bearing PowerPoint presentation called "Life is beautiful.pps" are false.

Mail Server Report
True: An Internet virus / worm is being propagated in emails containing the header 'Mail Server Report'

'Merry Christmas' Virus Warning
Message beginning "Do not open any message with an attached file called 'Merry Christmas' regardless of who sent it" is a hoax.

MusicPanel (MP3) Virus
This is a hoax, says computer security expert Rob Rosenberger. There is no "July 4" virus embedded in music downloaded from the Internet.

Also known simply as "Family Pictures." No real virus here, just a hoax -- as listed by Sophos.com.

'Obama Acceptance Speech' Virus Alert
NOT A HOAX: Virus alert warns that emails with the subject line 'Obama Acceptance Speech' carry a Trojan horse program that steals passwords and user IDs.

Osama Bin Laden 'Suicide' Virus
Outdated email alert warns that messages purporting to offer pictures of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden hanged actually link to a malicious computer virus.

Penpal Greetings
"Simply another hoax," says IBM's Antivirus department.

PERRIN.EXE - Upgrade Internet2
About's antivirus expert Mary Landesman has ruled this one a hoax.

'POSTCARD' Virus Alert
Hoax email alert warns of 'the worst virus ever' circulating in the form of an attachment labeled "POSTCARD."

Returned or Unable to Deliver(y)
It's a prank, straightforwardly debunked by About.com's antivirus expert Mary Landesman.

This phony alert about a supposedly malicious Geocities Website has been circulating for way too long.

'Sector Zero' Virus Alert
More commonly known as "A Virtual Card for You," this alleged virus is a hoax.

Is it a hoax, a virus, or WHAT? Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the so-called "June 1 Virus."

Win a Holiday
Facts behind an old virus hoax with a brand-new name. (Update: newer versions include the header "Help poor dog...")

Also known as the "California" virus. Hoax info from Antivirus expert Mary Landesman.

'WTC Survivor' Virus
According to all the major antivirus labs this supposed virus, allegedly capable of wiping out your hard drive, doesn't exist.

A Virtual Card for You
Hoax email alert warns of 'the worst virus ever' circulating under the header 'A Card for You' (or 'A Virtual Card for You').

WORK Virus Warning
Beware, there's a new virus going around called 'work.' If you receive any sort of 'work' at all, whether via email, Internet or simply handed to you by a colleague... DO NOT OPEN IT!

'Here You Have It' Virus Warning
Forwarded virus alert warns of malicious software associated with apparently harmless emails titled 'Here you have it.'

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.