Probably the most successful virus hoax of all time, Good
Times has been scaring people since 1994. It's still
going strong, despite the fact that it is completely
untrue; there is no such virus, and indeed it is
impossible for a virus to do what is claimed for Good
The hoax started off simply: it warned people not to read
or download any email with the subject of "Good Times",
because the messages were viral and would erase their hard
drives. Later, more detail was added, telling of the
damage that would be done to the user's computer system.
The end of the spoof warning contained an exhortation to
"Forward this to all your friends. It may help them a
lot." pass the message on to everyone the recipient knew. In
their thousands, people did, and still do.
The secret to the success of the hoax is that it
successfully taps into computer users' fears about
computers, security and the Internet, and contains
pseudo-technical babble that sounds convincing.
There are a large number of variants including 'Penpal Greetings'.