The threat is worse the the act

At one time a famous chess player was quoted as saying that and most chess experts would likely agree. The threat to take a piece or make a certain move is often half of the game. The threat is also a real thing on the internet.

I received notice that I should not add someone to my IM list. As the warning goes acceptance means you will get a virus. "Tell everyone on your list because if somebody on your list adds them you will get it too. It is a hard drive killer and a very horrible virus." This particular warning however is likely a hoax. You can read about it on silicon.com at http://software.silicon.com/security/0 39024655 39125523 00.htm

This kind of thing has been around since the beginnings of public email. I used to be emphatic by stating you can't get a virus by reading an email. A virus is a program. An email message is simply a document.

And while that is still true the way in which many computers are set up to automatically open attachments does make it possible to get a virus by "opening" an email. The same goes for those IM warnings. You can't get a virus by adding someone to your buddy list or reading a message from them. But you can get a virus from an attached file. That is until the IM programmers start setting things up so attached files are automatically opened.

Aside from that there is another issue involved with these warnings. While a virus could slow a computer and clog a network's resources responding to a persuasive hoax could just as damaging. The message volume could cripple a small network and the time spent by everyone sending out those warnings is another waste.

On the other hand you can't write off every warning as a hoax. In either case as best you can find out the truth for yourself before you take any kind of drastic action.

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