Virus Warnings and Solicitations: What Should I Do?

At one time or another, you have probably been the recipient of virus warnings, promotions, or solicitation e-mail messages. If so, you have probably wondered... What should I do? Should I pass these messages along to everyone I know (as the note probably suggests), or should I simply ignore and delete them?

While some virus warnings may be legitimate, as a general rule, the vast majority of these messages are simply hoaxes. At Fort Hays State University, any valid virus warnings will come from system administrators or other staff within the Computing and Telecommunications Center. Occasionally, warnings may also be widely publicized through the news media.

So, you ask, what should I do?? The Virus Bulletin Web site provides some excellent advice on how to identify a hoax and what to do if you think a message is a hoax. Another useful feature of the site is a list of common hoaxes. Other reliable sites you can use to identify hoaxes are www.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html and www.techrepublic.com/blog/10things/top-10-sites-to-debunk-internet-hoaxes/1719.

If you receive a warning or solicitation, do not circulate it without first checking with an authoritative source, such as one of the Web sites given above or a system administrator. In addition, most anti-virus companies publish Web pages containing information about widely known viruses and hoaxes. One key to identifying a possible hoax is that the message usually urges you to pass it along to everyone you know. A helpful phrase to remember is, "When in doubt, don't send it out."

If you investigate a virus warning and feel that it may be legitimate, do not send it to everyone you know! Forward it to the CTC HelpDesk at helpdesk@fhsu.edu. If the warning is legitimate, the CTC will then take proper action to inform any users who may be at risk.

Armed with a little education about how to identify these bogus messages, we can all help reduce the amount of "junk" mail circulating about on the Web.