What exactly is a virus hoax, and how can you tell if you’re dealing with one?

Virus hoaxes are false notifications that a virus has been detected. People usually receive them in their email inbox, through a company’s internal network, or even through social media…

They look a lot like the chain letters you get from your aunt, advising you that if you don’t forward the message to all of your connections, you’ll have five years of bad luck. Nothing happens if you ignore the letters from your aunt, and the same is true for you.

Virus hoaxes are, for the most part, harmless. The majority of them are designed to annoy their intended receivers or waste the time of those who send them on. The motivations for sending these hoaxes vary, but they often appear to be sent for the author’s entertainment, in order to observe how stupid others are and how far they can disseminate the message before being discovered.

Some viral hoaxes are a little more nefarious in their intent than others. As an alternative to simply scaring the recipient and encouraging them to transmit the message, they may also persuade them to perform some action that may damage or jeopardize the security of their computer in order to get rid of the “virus.”

There are plenty of these, including commands to destroy System32, jdbgmgr.exe, and SULFNBK.EXE. Each of these orders has the potential to have harmful consequences. For example, deleting the System32 folder will result in a problem that can only be resolved by reinstalling Windows. Despite the fact that these virus hoaxes do not contain any malware, they have the potential to cause problems that are just as serious as malware.

What exactly is a virus hoax, and how can you tell if you're dealing with one?
What exactly is a virus hoax, and how can you tell if you’re dealing with one?

How to tell if you’ve been infected with a virus fake or a legitimate virus

Virus hoaxes tend to have a similar style, with statements that are outlandish, extraordinary, or even hard to back up with evidence. Some scammers will warn you that your computer is going to explode, that your hard drive is going to be deleted, or that all of your accounts have been compromised.

They frequently include technical details that make little sense from a technology standpoint, but they tend to take advantage of internet users who aren’t extremely tech aware in order to make a profit. They are sometimes accompanied by exhortations to act quickly, such as “act now or the problem will become much worse.” Creating a sense of urgency encourages users to respond quickly and share the email before they have a chance to consider or be dubious of the claims made in the email.

There may also be an element of pretended authority present to add to the sense of pressure that the recipient is under. Microsoft or McAfee may claim that they have issued a virus alert, or they may claim that the message was initially published by a respected news source such as the New York Times. In order to give credibility to the assertions presented in the message, these tactics are used.

According to the Olympic Torch Virus Hoax, the following sentences were used to deceive people:

According to CNN, this is the worst virus ever discovered, and it has been recognized as the most damaging virus ever by Microsoft. This malware was found by McAfee just a few days ago, and there is currently no cure for this particular virus. Simply said, this virus corrupts or destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, which contains all of the critical information.

One of the most common characteristics of viral hoaxes is that they will request that you forward the message to your contacts. Hoaxes may demand that you transmit them, tell you that it is the only way to solve the situation, or appeal to your decency and urge you to do so in order to protect your friends and coworkers from being victimized. Using such strong rhetoric contributes to the propagation of viral hoaxes to a far greater extent.

Virus hoaxes that are well-known

There have been thousands of virus hoaxes that have been sent out in an attempt to trick their recipients into spreading the message to others. They appear to have gained popularity in the 1990s and have maintained their popularity ever since. Despite the fact that they were previously restricted to email and internal enterprise systems, modern technology has allowed them to surface on social media platforms and other sources.

Some of the more well-known virus hoaxes are as follows:

System32 is a scam.

As previously stated, the System32 hoax has the potential to cause substantial damage to your computer. Over the years, it has spread through a variety of various routes, but the one thing that they all have in common is that they all encourage you to uninstall System32. This is an important folder in the Windows operating system. It is only by reinstalling Windows that you can restore it after it has been removed. Nothing will be saved if it hasn’t been backed up beforehand.

jdbgmgr.exe is a bogus file.

This is yet another deceptive scam. It first appeared in the early 2000s and attempted to force its victims to delete the jdbgmgr.exe file from their computer’s hard drive. The Debugger Registrar for Java is contained within this file. Because the file has no effect on other programs, this exclusively impacts Java developers who have relied on Microsoft Visual J++ v1.1 as their development environment.

Martinelli’s WhatsApp prank was exposed.

This scam began spreading in Spanish in 2017, but it has now made its way across the border and into the English-speaking world. WhatsApp will release a video entitled Martinelli on the following day, according to the message sent by Martinelli to his friends. If consumers watch the video, it will “jack their phone and nothing will fix it,” according to the creator. It goes without saying that the video isn’t real, and it’s just another message that has been propagated through the force of people’s worries.

a hoax on Facebook

A similar hoax was perpetrated on Facebook in 2018, and a large number of people fell for it. Throughout the platform, it was disseminated through private messaging. It was common for recipients to receive a message from an acquaintance informing them that they had gotten “…another friend request from you, which I rejected, so you may want to check your account.”

Further, it instructed the recipient to forward the message to each and every person on their contact list. It appears to have preyed on people’s anxieties that their Facebook accounts had been “cloned,” which is an attack in which hackers copy someone’s details and use them to create a new account on the social networking site. Following that, they create a fake account that seems to be identical to the target’s and add all of his or her friends to it.

The majority of the time, cloning is used for phishing or malware distribution since people are significantly more willing to reveal information to someone they believe to be a friend than they are to a random stranger on the internet, according to research. Despite the fact that this is a legitimate threat, the hoax of 2018 has nothing to do with it. It was merely a message that went viral, scaring individuals into spreading it to their friends and family members.

Although this Facebook message appears to be a viral hoax, there is no mention of a virus in it, which means it is not one. Despite this, there are a lot of similarities between the two games. These include the way the post was worded and the fact that it spread due to fear of online attacks, despite the fact that nothing of the sort had actually occurred in the first place.

How to identify if a virus is genuine or if it is a virus fake

It’s possible to tell whether or not you’ve received a virus warning letter if you search for certain indications to determine whether or not it is a hoax. As we mentioned earlier, viral hoaxes like to make a lot of big statements that may or may not be supported by evidence, and they tend to urge you to act as quickly as possible in order to spread the word to other people.

If the message checks all of these boxes, it’s possible that your concerns were right. Visit one of the many online hoax repositories to determine whether or not the message is genuine. Companies like as McAfee, Symantec, Sophos, and others maintain comprehensive lists of virus hoaxes that you can look through at your convenience.

You can search through their collections for something that corresponds to the subject line or other essential characteristics of the communication that you received. If you are unable to locate it, try Googling the essential terms to see if you can come up with anything. Unless you are patient zero, you should be able to find out whether the virus is real or if it is a hoax by searching for information.

If the virus hoax makes any claims that are supported by a major technology business or a trustworthy news source, it will be rather simple to verify them. It is possible to determine whether a message claims that it is “the worst attack Symantec has ever seen,” or that CNN broke the story, by searching for the phrases that appear beside the company’s name in the message.

What should you do if you believe you have been the victim of a virus hoax?

If you receive an email that appears to be a virus hoax, remain cool and avoid making any snap judgments. Please don’t instantly send it on because you’re afraid, or because you believe it’s better to be safe than regrettable. It’s necessary to proceed with caution, but devoting a couple of extra minutes to gathering information will not make the issue worse.

The first step is to determine whether or not it is a fake and then proceed from there. Alternatively, if you receive the notice at work, simply forward it to the IT department, who will take care of it. If this is the case, keep an eye out for the telltale signals we discussed before, as well as browse through the hoax repositories we linked to above.

If it turns out to be a virus, look for information on how to get rid of it on credible websites online. If that is out of reach for you, your best bet will be to hire an IT professional to assist you. If it turns out that the message was a hoax, then all is fine. All you have to do now is put it out of your mind. You can delete it if you want, but it won’t make much of a difference.

By forwarding the message, it is essential that you do not propagate misleading information further. This will simply frighten the recipients who are unable to discern that the message is a hoax, as well as annoy the rest of the population.

It’s preferable if you can also inform the person who delivered the message that it was a fake. This may assist in preventing it from spreading further. It may be best to link material from one of the above-mentioned sources because some people may require further evidence to be persuaded of your point of view.

Was there anything that businesses might do to prevent virus hoaxes from spreading among their employees?

The most effective option at the organizational level is to get a strong policy in place. When employees receive notifications regarding viruses, it should be specified that they should forward the information to the IT department, regardless of whether the report appears to be false.

The policy should prohibit them from forwarding the messages to their colleagues, and it should state that after the message has been received, it is the responsibility of the IT department to deal with the matter.

This form of policy removes the decision-making power from the employees, who are frequently lacking in technology skills and hence unable to judge the validity of these risks on their own. IF the message turns out to be related to a real virus, the information technology department can take the necessary steps, which may or may not include notifying other members of the organization’s workforce.

If the communication turns out to be a hoax, this guideline should prevent it from spreading further within the organization. If everyone who receives it simply forwards it to the IT department, the viral hoax will not become a widespread workplace pandemic, as it would otherwise.

While the vast majority of virus hoaxes are not hazardous, they do consume people’s attention and can drive them to behave erratically as a result. Educating yourself about these scams, taking the time to investigate them, and making certain that you do not transmit these bogus messages to your contacts can all help to put a stop to them.

Mohammed jorjandi

Mohammad Jorjandi (born on 20 November 1980 in Zahedan) is a cybercrime expert, one of the first Iranian hackers, and the director of the Shabgard security group. He was arrested by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence in 2010 for hacking the website of Azad University to insult Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani and also accessing emails that contained confidential information while doing a Penetration test on IRIB. He spent several months in Evin Prison. After his release, he was hired by the Central Bank of Iran as the director of Kashef (Bank Emergency Network Security Control Center). After some time, He was fired from Central Bank due to his case in the Ministry of Intelligence. He immigrated to the United States from Iran in 2015. After his immigration, he started studying cyber security, a branch of cybercrime, and created a social media called "Webamooz", to investigate cybercrimes in Iran. Jorjandi published large cases of cybercrimes committed in Iran in Webamooz. He was one of the first people to investigate the illegal gambling network in Iran and ever since he has attracted people's attention to himself and his media. Jorjandi currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, and works for a cybersecurity company.

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