Tech moves fast! Stay ahead of the curve with Techopedia!
Join nearly 200,000 subscribers who receive actionable tech insights from Techopedia.
A virus hoax is an email that provides a warning about a virus, worm or some other disaster, and urges recipients to forward the message. Hoax emails are often sent from what appears to be a reliable source, which can make determining whether to heed their message difficult for recipients. Although such hoaxes are usually benign, they suggest that recipients delete important files from their computers or download an infected attachment.
Virus hoaxes can often be distinguished by their sensational nature as well as the official sounding claims they often contain.
For example, in 2006 an email circulated that claimed that emails with an attachment named "invitation" contained an "Olympic torch" that would burn a computer's entire hard drive. The email claimed that the virus had been announced by CNN and discovered by McAffee. Of course, the entire concept was a hoax.
Some people consider hoaxes to be a type of worm in and of themselves because they prey on people's fears about the Internet and influence computer users' behavior.