Virus Alerts through Email – Some interesting Facts

Recently I have received an email from my friend cautioning me about a Virus called "Invitation Virus" or " Olympic Torch" which is reported to be reaching our system as an attachment and would destroy the hard disc when it is opened. This is the virus alert message I had received.

"This is a Virus Alert
You should be alert during the next few days:
Do not open any message with an attached file called ‘ Invitation’ regardless of who sent it, It is a virus that opens an Olympic Torch which ‘burns’ the whole hard disc C of your computer.

This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address in his/her contact list, that is why you should send this e-mail to all your contacts. It is better to receive this message 25 times than to receive the virus and open it..
If you receive a mail called ‘invitation’, though sent by a friend, do not open it and shut down your computer immediately. This is the worst virus announced by CNN, it has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever.
This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept
SEND THIS E-MAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW, AND REMEMBER: IF YOU SEND IT TO THEM, YOU WILL BENEFIT ALL OF US"

I was taken aback for some time and in fact discussed about this virus alert with another friend. At that time I had a small doubt as this email required me to propagate this virus alert to every one I know. Then I started google (this is how we call the search process) the the term "Olympic torch" and "Invitation" viruses. I found that what I have received from my friend is only a Virus hoax.

A computer virus hoax is a false email message warning the recipient of a virus that is going around. The message usually serves as a chain email that tells the recipient to forward it to everyone they know.

Most hoaxes are easily identified by the fact that they say the virus will do nearly impossible things, like blow up the recipient’s computer. They often claim to be from reputable organizations such as Microsoft and IBM but include emotive language and encouragement to forward the message which would not come from an official source.

Hoaxes are not to be confused with computer pranks. Computer pranks are programs that perform unwanted and annoying actions on a computer, like randomly move the mouse. The consensus of anti-virus specialists is that recipients should delete virus hoaxes instead of forwarding them. For example, McAfee says: "We are advising users who receive the email to delete it and DO NOT pass it on as this is how an email HOAX propagates."

Interestingly, the Olympic Torch Virus hoax I have received is propagating since 2006. It has achieved its Goal. Is it not?

I have given a list of Virus Hoaxes here. Of course the list is incomplete. You can expand it if you google.

Virus Hoax Name Alias
(virus_hoax)Invitation attachment (computer virus hoax) (Allright now/I’m just sayin)
AIDS (none)
Amish UNIX virus, Mac OS 9 virus, Discount virus and many others
Antichirst (none)
Budweiser Frogs BUDSAVER.EXE
Good Times Virus (none)
jdbgmgr.exe (bear.a
Life is beautiful Life is wonderful
NVISION DESIGN, INC. games ("Frogapult," "Elfbowl") Sometimes included their other game "Y2KGame"
Olympic Torch Postcard
Stinky cheese Virus Alert
SULFNBK.EXE Warning none
Tuxissa (none)
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