Please Don't Spread Viruses

The Internet is a wonderful communications tool. You can provide advice, instruction, sympathy, and so many other services to folks so easily. Unfortunately, just as you can spread good things to others, some have found you can spread bad things too.

Viruses are one thing that you can spread, that you shouldn't. OK, you're thinking, I have X AntiVirus (no I'm not naming products here), so why is he haranguing me on this subject? I don't spread viruses.

But there are viruses and there are viruses. If you get an email from a friend (even an email intentionally sent), and the email instructs you to forward it to 5 (or 7) (or 10) of your friends, it's a virus. It's not as harmful as the Format C: virus (which is in itself a myth), but it can be as annoying.

If you're religious, a religious blessing is a benevolent virus, and if you carefully choose those to receive the blessing from you, a not unpleasant one. You have my blessing in forwarding those, but please forward them properly. Other email viruses are not benevolent ones - please don't forward commercial or financial ones.

Any time you get an email telling you how you can get money from perfect strangers, such as officers of large corporations, and instructing you to forward the email to your friends, chances are that it's a hoax, and a virus.

Any time you get ANYTHING in email that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do yourself (and your friends) a favour, and check it out. There are several on-line databases listing known hoaxes and viruses that spread thru email. Spend a few minutes, and search these databases, before spreading the next email virus.

Note, this list, like most of my lists, is alphabetised. Please don't ever take relative list position, as any evidence of my personal recommendation of any one item over another.

None of the above databases totally duplicate any other, so anytime you have doubts, check several before deciding that any suspicious email is, or isn't, a virus.

Also, some of the databases are run by large corporations, and while harmful intent is unlikely to be any motivation in any database that I will ever recommend (here or any other article), some corporations may or may not provide the full truth. Always check more than one database for any question.

Finally, the databases that aren't run by large corporations are non-profit, and do accept donations. They are, IMHO, valid and worthy causes. If it's in your spirit (and your pocketbook), you could do worse.

So, the next time you get an email, from a friend, that's come from another friend of that friend, check it out. If it's listed, do everybody a favour and let your friend know about hoax verification. If you wish, you may even send a link to this web page. I wouldn't mind, and you'd be doing good for a lot of people. Just click on the little envelope at the bottom left, above "Home".