We´re bombarded on an almost daily basis with news of new threats to our computer systems. The year 2006 started with a deluge of new viruses, according to the Commtouch Detection Center´s presentation at the RSA Conference in February. And installing a good antivirus program and keeping it up to date isn´t enough; other forms of attack–from spyware that infects individual computers to denial of service attacks that bring down whole networks–are on the rise, too.
But along with all the reports of real threats, the Internet spawns numerous hoaxes: messages that warn of threats that aren´t real. The originators of these messages are sometimes just trying to be funny, but other times they instruct users to do things to protect against the fake threat that really will damage their data or render their computer unusable. Most people who pass on the hoaxes have good intentions, but forwarding copies of virus and attack warnings that haven´t been confirmed can do more harm than good. Of course, a number of hoax messages out there promise all sorts of good things. Alas, when they sound too good to be true, they probably are.