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We also host the web site for Little Flint Ranch of West Point, Indiana. Fred Navarra is a longtime friend of the family, who purchased a dealership for W-W Livestock Systems. We designed and manage the web site at www.horsesense.ws/lilflint. Fred may also be contacted at lilflint@lycos.com.

 

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How to handle Virus Alert emails.

I am not an expert on computers, but I thought that this information may be useful to others.

This is a copy of the email I sent to Audrey Rector (Mom) today, she had sent me a "Virus Alert" email. She had received it from a well-intentioned friend, who passed it along to her without checking on its veracity.
 
I have also provided an easy-to-use method to check these out, before you unintentionally pass along a similar email "Virus Hoax," and possibly cause somebody you love to damage their computer because they trusted you.
 
When we do these things - passing along unconfirmed "Virus Alert" emails - the warnings we pass on can be just as harmful to the recipient's computer as a "Real" virus. Here is why . . .
 
----- Original Message -----
From: Mark Rector at Lazy R Ranch
To: Audrey Rector at Lazy R Ranch
Sent: Monday, August 04, 2003 6:53 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: Please read and pass on, very urgent
 
Dear Audrey,
 
Thank you for the warning, I know that you were only trying to be helpful.
 
What is a Virus Hoax? First off, I want you to be aware that I knew immediately that the email you sent to me was a " Virus Hoax," and that you were not aware of this when you passed it along. I am not the least upset with you (I know that you passed it along with good intentions), I am just concerned with the possibility that you may actually believe it when you get similar 'Virus Hoax' emails in the future (and you will), and that you might - in your naivete - unintentionally pass them along or -even worse - perform the actions that such "Virus Hoax" emails tell people to do.
 
This particular virus hoax is technologically 'harmless,' although it does get a lot of people worked up, angry, and upset for no good reason.
 
The email you forwarded to me is known as a "Virus Hoax," which means that there is no such virus. Although this particular 'virus hoax' happens to be harmless (no harm is actually done to anybody's computer by the email you forwarded), some "Virus Hoaxes" actually do harm the recipients' computers. Therefore, it is best to ALWAYS check out whether or not an email is true, before passing it along to friends and aquaintances.
 
Otherwise, they might actually believe that YOU checked out the message, and found it to be true. Then, when they follow the instructions in the email that YOU sent to them and they end up deleting important files on their computers themselves, they will blame YOU. For instance, in the email you forwarded to me, it said (and I quote):
". . . This information was announced yesterday morning from IBM; AOL states that this is a very dangerous virus, much worse than "Melissa," and that there is NO Remedy for it at this time . . ."
It sounds - in the above line - like YOU actually checked with AOL and IBM, and verified that this warning actually came from them. Actually, nobody ever actually checks with AOL or IBM (or whoever is named in the emails). Of course, that would take forever to go to the AOL or IBM web sites and actually find out whether or not they actually did send out this warning.  
 
It seems like every time I go to a big company's web site, it takes forever to find what I am looking for, and the creators of these "virus hoaxes" know that also. That is why they claim that AOL or IBM (or Microsoft or Netscape, etc.) said it: they know that nobody has the time to actually find out themselves: AOL and IBM make it impossible to find out these things quickly and easily. Instead, the well-intentioned people who receive these "virus hoax" emails just forward them to everyvbody in their address book (acting just exactly like the so-called "virus" that they are warning against.)
 
What to do... That is why you should always go to the Symantec/Norton web site to check them out, Norton makes it very easy to find out the truth about these emails. Might I possibly suggest that you visit the Symantec/Norton web site right now (web site address below, in a minute), and BOOKMARK it in your browser's "favorites" section? That way you will be able to quickly and easily check them out in the future, without having to remember where to go, or what the web site was named. I would also suggest that - when your "favorites" section appears, you rename it something that you will recognize easily, something like Viruses: use Norton to check out "Virus Alert" emails.
 
Most "virus hoaxes" achieve their intended damage NOT by any actual virus, but rather by the things that they instruct the recipients to do to "protect themselves" from the fake viruses. 
 
For instance, they will give specific instructions for people to destroy their own computer. They do this by telling people how to find and delete files in a roundabout "backdoor" manner.
 
If you were to use Windows Explorer to find the so-called "dangerous" files on your computer, your computer would warn you not to delete those files (they are actually part of your legitmate Windows Opearting System, and you get a warning before it will allow you to destroy any legitimate portion of Windows). Therefore, the hoaxes provide a method to find and delete the files through "the backdoor."
 
In the future, if you ever receive any warning in the email about any so-called "viruses" I would suggest you take a few seconds to find out more about it. For instance, to find out the truth about this phony "It Takes Guts to say Jesus" hoax, it took me about 20 seconds to find out the truth.
 
Here is the easy way to do that RIGHT NOW:
  1. Go to the Symantec/Norton Antivirus web site. (http://www.symantec.com/)
  2. At the top-center of the page click on the "Search" button.
  3. Type in the name of the so-called virus. (type in "It Takes Guts to say Jesus")
  4. Click on the "Search" button.
  5. Then, go back to the Norton Home Page (http://www.symantec.com/) and Bookmark the Norton web site for future 'virus alert' emails.
Norton will provide a list of search results from their web site, usually the very top result is the one that deals specifically with the email you are wanting to know about.  For instance, I did the above four steps, for the so-called virus "It Takes guts to say Jesus." It took me twenty seconds to do. Here is the beginning of the information Norton provided about this particular "virus hoax" email:  
". . . Symantec Security Response encourages you to ignore any messages regarding this hoax. It is harmless and is intended only to cause unwarranted concern.
Also Known As: RETURNED OR UNABLE TO DELIVER
 
Type: Virus Hoax  
Technical Details: This is not a virus; it is a hoax, and it should be ignored. The following are three known varients of this hoax . . "
To read all of the information about this irreverent "Jesus" hoax, use the following link: 
 
http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/jesus-hoax.html 
 
NOTE: it is not necessary to be a Norton customer or client, to have purchased or have installed the symantec/Norton antivirus software, to use this informational web site, it is provided free-of-charge to the general public by Norton as a community service
 
Norton is a responsible company, it's nice to work with a company that has integrity, ethics, and a sense of duty today, there are so few left in the world. That is why I always suggest that people buy and use Norton Antivirus for their computers. Plus, it is so easy to use, and makes it virtually impossible for any virus or harmful computer scripts to ever hurt your computer as long as you have it running when you open emails or visit any websites. And, if you use it correctly, even if a virus does somehow get onto your computer (through a ZIP file or a floppy disk, for instance), Norton provides an emergency-backup application to restore your computer. 
 
Again, I am not in the least upset with you, please don't think that I am. Okay? 
 
If you wish you may forward this email to the people you already sent the first one to, so that they will know how to deal with such emails in the future as well. 
 
Love, 
Mark 
www.horsesense.ws 
 


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2003, Mark Rector at HorseSense
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Last Updated: 07/18/2003

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