I’ve received a number of emails lately from friends and family, apologizing for possibly infecting me with a virus. So far, it’s never been true – they have all been the victims of hoaxes. This is a “psychological” virus, spread by your desire to help your friends and prevent computer tragedy; there is no real virus involved. Unfortunately, these hoaxes can sometimes result in real damage to your system, if you follow the instructions and delete whatever file they tell you is a virus.
Whenever you receive an email of this type, before you do anything else, go toSymantec or McAfee and look up a keyword in the message (such as the name of the .exe file you are advised to delete) using the site’s search feature. This will tell you whether the danger is real or (far more likely) a hoax. If it’s a hoax, no further action is needed – you haven’t infected anybody, so long as you don’t pass on the hoax email!
NB: I have also received plenty of real viruses, but these are disabled upon arrival in my mailbox. DO make sure that you have anti-virus software installed, and update it at least weekly. There’s a good one available that’s completely free, AVG Free Edition from Grisoft.