Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global
network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have warned
users not to fall for a new hoax spreading across the internet,
posing as a warning of a non-existent virus.
The Olympic Torch
hoax warns email users to be wary of emails with the subject
line "Invitation", and claims that it has been classified as "the
most destructive virus ever."
The hoax claims that the "virus simply destroys the Zero Sector
of the Hard Disc". Sophos is receiving an increasing number of
reports of the hoax from users who are concerned it may be
"The warning is clearly nonsense and no such virus exists," said
senior technology consultant for Sophos. "However, hoaxes and chain
letters like this are not harmless - they waste time and bandwidth,
and can be a genuine headache for support departments. Users need
to think ask themselves whether everything they are told can be
Part of the hoax message reads as follows:
Do not open any message with an attached
filed called "Invitation" regardless of who sent it. It is a virus
that opens an Olympic Torch which "burns" the whole hard disc C of
your computer. This virus will be received from someone who has
your e-mail address in his/her contact list, that is why you should
send this e-mail to all your contacts. It is better to receive this
message 25 times than to receive the virus and open it
"Hoaxes like this exist because it's so easy to forward an
electronic warning to all of your friends and colleagues, and many
people who may be suspicious of the warning decide it's better to
be safe than sorry." continued Cluley. "People should think very
carefully before they send a message on to all of their contacts,
as they may be perpetuating an irritating hoax. You should always
check to see if it is believable, and not a known hoax, before even
considering sending it onto other computer users."
Sophos warns that hoaxes can cause serious problems, as innocent
users over-react to the alert. Sometimes users become convinced
that they have become infected by the bogus virus, and when their
anti-virus software "fails" to find the infection resort to
deleting critical files or formatting their hard drive.
"Virus hoaxes aren't just a nuisance, they're a menace,"
continued Cluley. "By forwarding these hoaxes to your friends and
family you could be panicking them into taking the worst possible
Sophos has made available a series of free, constantly updated
RSS feeds which enable users to always find
out about the latest viruses and hoaxes.